On Cocktail Parties With Nick Gray


On Cocktail Parties With Nick Gray

Interview Of The Week

Nick Gray is an entrepreneur and best-selling author living in Austin, Texas. He started and sold two successful companies: Flight Display Systems and Museum Hack. Nick is the author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party. He’s been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and New York Magazine called him a host of “culturally significant parties.”

The 2-Hour Cocktail Party gives a simple party-hosting formula with step-by-step instructions, from which days are the best to throw events (probably not the ones you think!) to what to say to the first people who arrive. We had a chat with Nick Gray, the mind behind this wonderfully practical book, discussing some key insights from his work.

1. If you had to choose one idea from your book that everyone should know about, what would it be?

NG: To meet interesting people, you need to do interesting things, and the easiest way to do interesting things is to learn how to host a well-run event. People love to know someone who hosts events and it’s a skill that you can learn.

But here is the thing, your events don’t need to be big and complicated for you to meet people. You don’t need a dinner party or a mastermind dinner. These events require a lot of planning, and because of that, it’s not easy to host them regularly.

To build your network, you have to do things repeatedly that others only do occasionally. The book gives people a format or a formula of something that they can easily do once a month without stress. It helps you reach more people and stay consistent when it comes to your social life.

2. Why is this idea important and how can it help us grow?

NG: Obvious benefits are that it helps you make new friends, expand your network or grow your business. But it also helps you host events with less stress and build confidence in bringing people together. Finally, hosting your own parties saves you from attending awkward events. Instead, you choose to build your network in an authentic way.

3. What existing beliefs or practices does this idea challenge and how?

NG: We talk a lot about building deep connections and the idea that you’re the sum of your five closest friends (and I believe that). But I also believe in building loose connections. Many big opportunities in life are found not through your best friends, but through weak ties and loose connections. Cocktail parties are about building that large loose network, not about close bonds.

Undoubtedly, all big relationships start as acquaintances. If someone shows up to my party, I can ask them, “Hey, can I call you tomorrow, can we go for coffee, etc.” So, I can propose something that would deepen our relationship, but the party is where it all starts.

4. In your book, you give us “the perfect party formula.” What would be the 3 key elements of this formula?


  • Collecting RSVPs

Many times people just inform others that they are hosting a party and hope someone will show up. Collecting RSVPs is getting people to make a little commitment that they’ll come.

  • Name tags

Every single guest needs to have a name tag. Don’t assume that people know each other or that they’ll remember all the names. You also need to tell people in advance that there will be name tags to make it less awkward.

  • The round of intros

Or if you like to call them — ice breakers. The round of intros helps people have more productive conversations. This way, they are more likely to meet someone new and interesting.

5. Would you advise bringing together a group of people based on things like interests or industry? 

NG: For your 1st party, don’t overthink it. Just invite all the interesting people you know. Later on, as you become more confident, you can invite a specific group of people. In general, it’s more interesting when you mix up different groups. Curated groups can be boring.

A quote from the book:

“Don’t attend bad events — host great parties instead.”