The blog post is written by Dr. Tuuli Bell, the owner of FBCC Corporate Member Tuuli Bell Ltd.
Once, I described myself as “stubbornly positive” at a networking event. That attitude has slowly become an everyday practice, a reminder during isolation that we can choose how we feel. I’d like to say it’s easy. On many days, I forget, pick myself up, and resume my practice. It’s one thing to be self-aware and control your thoughts, feelings, and words. As an organiser of a networking event, how can you influence the feelings of the participants? How do you create an atmosphere where people can feel safe to share their thoughts, enjoy themselves, and make meaningful connections?
We are heading towards the spring and have plenty of upcoming opportunities to renew, re-assess and transform our events. With a very special art-focused networking event with ProjectTransformations and FBCC coming up, I’d like to share my top 7 learnings about organising networking magic:
- Pick a theme that people gather around. Priya Parker suggests in her transformative book The Art of Gathering1 that you can engineer meaningful gatherings by being intentional and clear about the theme.
- Be brave. When you pour your heart into your work, it shows. Bring your true self to the event planning meetings and encourage others to do the same. It’s hard to put this into a couple of sentences as Brené Brown2 has been studying it for over 20 years.
- Embrace the limiting factors. When you have limited choices (about anything), you’re actually releasing your creative powers within. We all know the power of deadlines, and that’s an example of limited time. Check out more of Tina Seelig’s creative wisdom in inGenius3.
- Create a magical space. The environment that you’re in has a major impact on your creativity, output and mindset. Often in times of crisis, it can be easiest to change your environment as a positivity boost. That is why top schools and universities look attractive, and why cathedrals have high ceilings: they make you think prosperous thoughts, let your mind wonder in a vast space and invite you to look upwards. For inspiration, take a look at Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft’s Create Space4. Adjusting for a virtual environment, send a physical item to the participants they can touch and feel, or invite them to bring their own.
- Think about who you’re targeting. Who are you attracting to the event? The easiest way to influence who will be there is to understand the target profile and use words that speak to them (and not others). Shelle Rose Charvet’s Words That Change Minds5 opened my eyes to the power of words.
- Think holistically. What else is going on in the lives of the participants? Will they be able to attend your event if it’s at school pick-up time? Will they need to, and be able to, download special software on their work laptops? Are there other accessibility, or language barriers that you need to take into account?
- Plan your hellos and saying goodbye. Coming back to Priya Parker’s book1, she explains how participants’ experience of the gathering starts as soon as they hear about the event and ends after the event has come to a close. What are the opening and closing rituals that you will employ? Ending a gathering is much easier in a virtual space than, for example if you had guests at home. In either case, you’ll want to let everyone know what to expect, and in which sequence or at what time. Finally, how will you follow-up after the event? When you’ve arranged a great event, you’ll want to help the participants to take something home with them, to remember it with gratitude and a smile. If they learn something that reminds them to live life to the fullest, you’ve more than achieved your goal.
Thank you for taking your time to read through the post, and I hope it gave you ideas and inspiration for organising your next event. If you are curious about participating in a novel art-networking event, sign up today to secure your place. Look forward to seeing you there!
Dr Tuuli Bell is founder of FBCC member company Tuuli Bell Ltd. Drawing on her research background in experimental physics, and a life-long passion for oil painting, Tuuli challenges the barriers between disciplines. She believes that arts and sciences have complementing approaches, with the same purpose: to deepen our understanding of the universe – a space-time that we are part of. For her, happiness is about embracing change, connecting with others on a human level, and communicating with the universe through visual art.
Read more about ProjectTransformations art workshop and get your tickets here.
- Priya Parker, The Art of Gathering: https://www.priyaparker.com/thebook
- Brené Brown, Dare to Lead: https://daretolead.brenebrown.com/
- Tina Seelig, inGenius, http://www.tinaseelig.com/books.html
- Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft, Create Space:https://dschool.stanford.edu/resources/make-space-excerpts
- Shelle Rose Charvet, Words That Change Minds: https://wordsthatchangeminds.com/