More than half of the guys in John’s dinner group didn’t join by signing up online, as some people do. They’re guys he simply met and invited. (In some cases, it took a few tries.) “They’ll joke around, like, oh yeah, this guy tried to get me for six months before I finally joined a group,” John says. But even when it’s a joke, there’s also some truth to that. After leading a dinner group for more than five years, John’s found that a personal invite is more effective than expecting people to sign up online. For someone who’s new to dinner groups, the idea of registering online is easy to put off—or to forget about completely. And more importantly, a personal invite can be much less intimidating. “A lot of times, people don’t feel comfortable signing up—they don’t know who they’re going to meet, and just having the ability to know a face before you go in can be really beneficial,” he says. For someone like John—an extrovert who jokes that persistence is one of his gifts—inviting someone to dinner group comes naturally. But even if you don’t share those traits, having a small group invitation template can be a big help.
Small Group Invitation Template: 6 Simple Steps
1). Strike Up a Conversation
“A lot of times you see people sitting by themselves at church, or who don’t seem to know as many people,” says John. “You can see it in their face, or they’re not talking to anyone.”
John says instead of asking that person if they’re new, simply introduce yourself and get to know them.
“I always think that’s the best step,” he says. “Getting to know them, asking them where they’re from, how long they’ve been going to Hoboken Grace, and then casually asking, ‘Are you in a dinner group?’”
2). Extend an Invite
When John first meets people, he often mentions that he leads a dinner group, and how beneficial that community has been in his own life. It’s a great way to meet people, he says.
Oftentimes, he’ll invite people to check out his group. But he also tells them there are groups that meet nearly every day of the week. It’s a way to let someone know they’re invited, but also gives them the opportunity to explore any group they want.
When someone expresses interest in your group, get their number, John says. That way you can follow up with a text—which people are typically more responsive to than email.
3). Don’t Be Afraid to Try Again
Don’t be discouraged if someone turns down your invite, John says.
“What I try to do is engage them every time I see them—just say hi to them. I don’t try to push dinner groups, but maybe I’ll ask them about it a couple weeks later.”