Last Christmas, Nancy gave our son-in-law a painting she had painted of the Dallas skyline. He opened his gift and looked at it wondering why in the world we were giving it to him. At that point Nancy told him she had painted it during a birthday party painting class with wine at GNOSH here in Dallas. I don’t think it is hanging anywhere in their house.

Nancy thought her experience was great fun and  I thought that could be an interesting client development activity.

I just recently had a coaching session with Sarah Bird, a partner in McCarthy Tétrault ‘s Vancouver office. We talked about a client function she was putting together. When she told me about it, I thought it was a great idea. Sarah told me she was inviting couples (husbands and wives) to a “hands-on” cooking class evening at the Dirty Apron in Vancouver. Her group would cook each course and then eat it. 

Here is how it is described on the Dirty Apron website:

Our hands on cooking classes are a brilliant way to get to know your colleagues and clients better while allowing them to show-off their hidden culinary talents. Our expert tutor chefs will guide your group as they create their own three course sumptuous meal. Once the group has plated up their culinary creations they’ll sit and enjoy their dishes in our beautiful dining room with a glass or two of thoughtfully chosen wine.

What are some other ideas for client gatherings? Lynn Parsons is  a partner in McCarthy Tétrault ‘s Toronto office. I worked with Lynn last year. She came up with many creative client development activities.

She created a bootcamp for women in the banking industry. The boot camp brought lawyers and clients together for a one hour fitness training session with a trainer each Friday. For convenience, a bag lunch was provided for participants to take back to their desks after the workout. One guest reflected “This is the best event any law firm has ever put together for women!”

Here is how Lynn described the experience:

For the past year, the boot camp has been a journey that we have shared with our clients and during which we have strengthened existing friendships and forged new ones. We have laughed, complained and perspired profusely. We have encouraged each other loudly and we have cheered each other’s accomplishments shamelessly – can it get any better than that?

Like Sarah, Lynn also organized cooking class events. Her cooking classes were at Dish Cooking Studio. She also organized an introductory sailing class and lunch for women in energy industry at Humber Sailing & Powerboating Centre.

What is the point of any of these ideas? First, I believe clients are more likely to remember an activity than to remember a lunch or dinner. Second, painting, cooking, working out and sailing are not the same entertaining that every other lawyer and law firm are doing. Finally, the clients who participate will likely have great fun.

I bet you can find painting classes, cooking classes, workout boot camps in most cities. If you are lucky enough to live near the water, you might even find a sailing class. Give one idea a try and have some fun.

If you have done an interesting client development entertaining activity, share your ideas with me and other readers. If it is an awesome idea, I would be happy to tell your story here.