A Community Mindset: Shifting Your Perspective from Me to Us

6 Ways to Help Learners Connect at Conferences

By Kara Dao

When deciding whether to attend an event, we all ask ourselves the question: What’s in it for me? Traditionally, valuable education/CEUs, networking opportunities, or access to innovative solutions are all motivators. These are all valid, but they often lead to notes thrown in a drawer and fleeting connections that dissolve once the event concludes. “It was great meeting you! Let’s stay in touch.” But how often does that promise hold? This can happen even for those of us with the best of intentions.

With the bar for attendee expectations reaching new heights, it’s time for event organizers to shift our perspective. What if, instead of showing audiences simply “what’s in it for me,” we asked how events can be catalysts for creating lasting community? Here are three easy ways to shift your perspective toward a community mindset and drive value beyond the event walls.

1. Embrace Collaboration 

Events can play a pivotal role in forging connections that transcend the transactional nature of traditional networking. The distinction is clear: Networking happens when you want to know someone, but community emerges when someone else wants to know you, too. The essence of community invokes a profound sense of belonging, and events can be catalysts that bring it to life. Remember that genuine value extends beyond individual gains, encompassing the collaborative spirit of a community that thrives long after the event’s conclusion.

The transformation begins with deliberate event design, not by happenstance. Whether through thoughtfully arranged seating that fosters conversations or interactive activities that bring attendees together, organizers must ensure that community-building is an intentional focus of the event. This strategy centers on making engagement “stickier” by nurturing a sense of belonging akin to a tribe.

2. Be Curious  

Adopting a curiosity-driven mentality yields better results than simply absorbing the information that comes to you. Embracing curiosity provides fresh perspectives and exciting possibilities. To facilitate curiosity, create an environment that ignites the desire in attendees to explore, connect, and grow.

For example, empathy serves as a precursor to curiosity. Through empathetic understanding, attendees can connect on a deeper level, leading to genuinely curious exchanges and memorable experiences. In addition, let go of the safety net of certainty and embrace the unknown. Curiosity thrives in ambiguity, and by questioning the uncharted territory, you open doors to novel event experiences.

3. Chase Failure & Friction 

Explore the concept that what’s traditionally seen as “failure” might actually harbor hidden opportunities for growth and learning. As event organizers, this encourages us to confront challenges head-on, viewing them not as setbacks but as stepping stones toward innovation. Instead of avoiding or ignoring friction points, spotlight these issues at your event and use them as launching pads for proactive problem-solving and innovation. When approached with the right mindset, failure and friction can lead to unexpected and valuable outcomes, setting the stage for meaningful transformations and enduring brand loyalty.