People enjoy feeling like they are a part of something, whether they are part of the act, performance, taste testers, or audience members who are called onto the stage to demo a new product. In his book, Tribes, Seth Godin articulates this idea by defining a tribe as, “a group of people connected to one another, a leader, or idea.”
Moms all over the world further demonstrate this point. Moms love watching their kid perform, not because their kid is the next Jimmy Hendrix or Beyonce. It’s because that child is theirs. They feel invested and connected to the main act. When an attendee feels a deep connection with some aspect of your event, it won’t matter so much if the drinks are a tiny bit overpriced, or the line to get in was a little long. Moms let these details slide; they’re too busy worrying about getting that sweet, front row seat so they can record the whole thing.
Give your attendees the opportunity to feel connected with your event and watch the mom effect unfold.
The Power of Belonging
When was the last time you met someone and felt as if you’ve known him or her your entire life? Your goal is to create a community around your event that facilitates this type of connection and camaraderie between attendees. If an individual is only seeing his or her new best friend or hot, new crush at your next event, you better believe they’ll go to all ends of the universe to make it back next year!
Some music festivals, like Denmark’s Roskilde, promote activities like free massages and nonsensical drinking games. Although the main attraction is the music, people gather ’round a more intimate setting to get to know others who have traveled from around the globe to share in the joy of music. Follow in Rosklide’s footsteps and come up with your own activities that will get people interacting on a first name basis.
If activities like massages and drinking games don’t align with the mood or level of professionalism of your event, an alternative strategy to encourage people to engage with fellow guests is to initiate seat swapping. In other words, don’t let attendees sit next to the same person the whole time. After a break or presentation, have attendees switch seats and say hello to the new friend sitting next to them. Although this might seem unnecessary, guests, especially shy ones, sometimes need an excuse to introduce themselves to someone they’ve never met. Seat swapping provides that excuse.
The Power of Storytelling
Let people know the real reason, beside the free food and hip venue, they are attending your event. As the event creator, set a good tone by telling your story with passion and enthusiasm. In the beloved film, Remember the Titans, the team captain said it best, “Attitude reflects leadership”. If you are a leader in positive attitude and enthusiasm, chances are high that your attendees will follow your example. Engage your audience at your event, as well as outside of it. Show them that you care by facilitating discussion, tweeting at them, sending out a monthly newsletter, offering discount codes, asking questions, and most importantly… LISTENING. We’re given two ears and one mouth for a reason. In William Ury’s TedxTalk, he outlines the cost effective benefits of listening when it comes to business and success.
Offer guests a brochure, or any other sort of handout that gives a brief snapshot of your event’s “thesis”, or main idea. Maybe you’re hosting your first beer event, so you hand out coasters with your slogan, logo, or brief story printed on them. Giving guests a takeaway that reminds them of the experience your event provided will ensure that your event will not be easily forgotten.
Mark Earls, author of Herd, further explains these concepts in three simple ways:
1. People are social animals.
2. Businesses are social groups, not machines.
3. Purpose is the key factor in holding social groups together.
These points hit home for the team at GapingVoid Art. So, of course they made a cartoon about the concept.
Market your event not as a “networking” opportunity for guests, but a platform in which humans can connect with other humans. Encourage guests to be social through leading by example. Shake someone’s hand that’s new to the cause, or introduce yourself to the shy person hovering around the food table. People tend to forget the outfit you were wearing, or if the joke you told didn’t go over so well. In the words of Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”