A friend of mine heads on a dream vacation – a weekend workshop retreat hosted by a favorite monthly publication that features great food and beautiful décor. I deeply admire her. See, she’s goes solo.
My friend is tactful, open and delightfully amusing so I imagine she soon holds court with her fellow attendees yet her anticipation for the event makes me think of a blog post I recently read. In the post, the author Donna Kastner, a fan of the 1980s sitcom Cheers, relates the characters and what happens in the fictional bar to the experience of community at an event.
The author invites us to consider someone like my friend, that solo attendee. She assumes the solo’s perspective to ask, “If… I don't know anyone else, will staff, volunteers and others even notice me? Will they go out of their way to invite me into conversations?”
How is an event a community? And what’s the benefit?
A community is defined by the people that share in a place, for even a small amount of time, to engage in a like-manner over a shared problem, need or concern. The community is alive and changes throughout the duration of event: leaders appear and followers abide through all kinds of real and non-communicated rules that influence attendee patterns, communication and customs. (Almost) anyone can identify who is supposed to be there and who’s the outsider – an identity flags the insiders– those people with similar name badges. Whether someone registers with a team of 12 or another goes on her own, by being present, each person is a part of that event’s community.
Many corporate events purposefully encourage peer-to-peer interaction for networking, social events rely on the creating an atmosphere of warmth and inclusion and in the educational setting interaction teaches or reinforces a new idea. That 30-second turn-to-your-neighbor-to-share-a-factoid is important way foster (or force) interaction that may lead to many shared ideas and new connections. The means are varied and it’s fun to brainstorm what will work to promote the intent and purpose of the event and to advance the sense of community:
How do you do it? How do you take note and invite others into conversation or to join you in the after-hours even? How do you create community?
Rachel, Reach Partners
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