Imagine what it feels like sitting alone in your hotel room knowing that the conference is just starting. You know you should get down there to learn and mix & mingle but your nerves are working on you. You are alone. You know you have to face a room full of strangers, a crowd of people with not a single familiar friendly face.
Faced with this scenario some of us feel:
- Abject terror
- Suddenly anxious
- Excited nervousness
- Mildly uncomfortable
- Thrilled by the opportunities
Like the anxiety produced in most of us at the thought of public speaking, the thought of networking can do the same. Many of us are on the nervous side of the scale.
We have a choice. We can organize conferences, events, networking opportunities, training and even our associations in the normal fashion. We can use the usual process of handing out a badge and setting members free in the crowd letting them fend for themselves. Based on where their nervousness meter is set and serendipity they will feel however they feel.
The other option is to prepare them to be their best selves, in their best frame of mind, strong and ready to make worthwhile connections.
Imagine if we scrapped convention
- Instead of the usual badge table there’s a welcoming committee that smiles, shakes hands and maybe even hugs.
- Instead of standing around looking at a all the people talking, members are invited to join in an activity so they have something to do and someone to talk to.
- Instead of wondering what to do next, imagine if members knew who to ask questions of and if those people were out and about, visible and accessible.
- Instead of accidentally stumbling on the right room, the snacks or the correct place to be, members get a personal tour.
These are just a few ideas — what can you imagine? What do you want to fix?
Imagine if in addition to a handful of volunteers that manned registration we also have legions of volunteers whose job it is to welcome members. They are trained. They are enthusiastic. They have the answers. They are nice. They care. They are genuine. They personally connect with members so each member has had interaction with at least a few of these special folks. What would happen if we had one volunteer in this role to every ten members at our events?
If we did something like this could we lessen the nervousness? Could we help members connect with peers faster? Could we show value sooner? Could we help members achieve the goals they set out to achieve?