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Connection Driven Events

One of the most powerful ways we can address the loneliness crisis as a society is to create more opportunities for truly bringing people together at the plethora of events that are held in every city on a daily and weekly basis.

Clearly, one of the best ways to meet new people and make friends should be to go to an event. There are all kinds to go to: exercise classes, community center events, volunteering, meetup hobby groups, classes, workshops, sports leagues: book clubs, art exhibitions, music events and concerts; game nights, spiritual gatherings, community fairs, trivia night, farmers markets, just to name a few. 


However, while events bring people together in a physical space and often a shared activity, they often fail at helping people to connect. As many of us who have lived alone in multiple cities or have difficulty making friends can attest, just going to events doesn’t always lead to success in forming lasting connections.


Have you been at an event where the whole event goes by and you don’t have a chance to speak and you don’t meet anyone new? Have you been to an event where you are required to possibly invade someone else's personal space or walk up to a stranger in the middle of a conversation to meet them?  Or perhaps you’ve been to an event where you are doing an activity together with the other participants but conversation is secondary and requires each individual at the event to initiate the conversations with each other and the topics? You may have wished your event was a Connection Driven Event.

Our Vision

The Social Connection Circle believes every event can be a Connection Driven Event, an event that prioritizes the ability to make meaningful connections and promote a sense of belonging for everyone attending – where organizers of the event set it up to intentionally connect people, inclusive for those experiencing loneliness. These are events that provide opportunities for every attendee, whether they come in a group or alone, to meet someone new in ways that make the interactions easier, with a structure that normalizes and facilitates conversation.   


To summarize, Connection Driven Events have the following qualities:


  1. They are inclusive for those who come alone by providing opportunities for people coming to the event alone to meet someone new. 

  2. They are inclusive for those wanting to meet new people by not requiring the person coming alone to perform an act of bravery in order to meet someone new or to awkwardly engage in small talk in order to break the ice.  They don’t  leave it up to the individual to approach someone without event context in order to meet someone new. 

  3. They are organized to intentionally connect people. Instead of requiring awkward conversation between participants, they provide a built-in structure that connects participants, whether in pairs or larger groups, or a context for introductions.  

How to Create a Connection Driven Event

To create a Connection Driven Event, make it easier for attendees to connect by having built-in activities or hosting actions that ensure people can have many conversations with those attending.  These can be themes, discussion games, hosting initiatives, mingle spaces, or other techniques that provide people the opportunity to meet someone new as part of the event. 


For example, say you attend an art gallery opening. When you enter the event, are you greeted with a check in and sent on your way? Are you left around to wander in the small group you came with or by yourself? If the event organizers want to prioritize building connections in the community, they should ensure every participant has the ability to have conversations with people they haven’t met before. They should welcome people into participation and provide opportunities throughout the event to connect with a number of people and help facilitate the interactions. 


There are many ways this can be achieved. For instance, before arriving or when they arrive, have guests sign up to participate in conversations and be given pins on arrival that indicate their openness to chat based on the color of their pin. Or give people a discussion prompt card and ask participants to find other people at the event wearing a specific color and ask them a question from a list of questions about art, like a people scavenger hunt or bingo. 


Little things like this can turn an event where people only stick to those they came with into a few hundred people intermingling and feeling free to meet each other. We just need to give people permission to reach out to others.  


For those who have experienced deep loneliness, the idea of going to a big event alone and wandering around with no one to talk to is daunting or can increase the feeling of loneliness and dread. Is it possible they might strike up a conversation and get lucky and make a friend? Yes, it’s possible, but we should do more for each other and make life a little easier.


Or imagine being in a weekly sports team or board game group. Does the organizer ensure people are meeting each other beyond the game. Are there planned activities for the whole team to engage in ice breakers? For those who are not outgoing, or experiencing deep loneliness, they may not meet anyone. By addressing this issue more widely, not only can we help address loneliness, but we can draw out the potential of connections for everyone. 


Or if the event is a smaller event, we take time during the event to pair people into timed discussions with deeper questions, or have discussion topic themes in groups. More examples and ideas for this are discussed below.


Note:  Some events may be organized to ensure those not feeling social don’t have to participate. If someone doesn't feel like talking to anyone, solitude in public spaces should be respected, but solitude should not be idolized. We believe the over protectiveness of individual space has left many in society lonely. By recognizing the unused potential of the hidden connections we have yet to make, let us strive to make more of society open Mingle Spaces where talking to new people becomes the norm. 

More Connection Event Ideas

Here are some more ideas for creating a Connection Driven Event that can make your event inclusive for those wanting to meet new people and those who might be experiencing loneliness and to increase the odds of creating deeper and more lasting connections between participants. 

Encourage Storytelling and group discussions:
Facilitate opportunities for attendees to share their stories or experiences. This creates a sense of vulnerability and connection among participants. Organize small group discussions on topics of shared interests. This allows for more in-depth conversations and helps people find common ground.


Mindful Discussions:
Structure networking sessions to encourage genuine connections. Provide prompts or discussion topics that prompt deeper conversations beyond typical small talk. Create 10 minute break out sessions and conversations with others as much as possible with the time allotted. Include group discussion activities that allow attendees to reveal or express their deeper truth or personality or aspect of themselves that may make it possible for a lasting connection to be made. 


Collaborative activities that involve everyone:
Include activities that encourage collaboration and teamwork. Guided workshops, group activities, group discussions, or problem-solving exercises can help people feel a sense of camaraderie.


Friendship-Focused Themes:
Design the event around themes that naturally facilitate friendship and camaraderie. This could include events like potlucks, game nights, or collaborative projects.


Open Mic Opportunities:
Host an open mic or talent showcase where attendees can share their passions, talents, or unique skills. This creates a platform for self-expression and connection.


Interactive Workshops:
Organize hands-on workshops or activities that require collaboration. This allows participants to engage with each other on a deeper level while working towards a shared goal.

Connection Event Enhancements

Name Tags with Interests:
As above, doing something simple with name tags or pins or buttons that makes people easier to approach is a simple thing more events can do. Encourage attendees to wear name tags that include not only their names but also a few of their interests or hobbies. This makes it easier for people to strike up conversations based on shared interests. 

Icebreakers and Introductions:
When making an introduction, ensure that everyone feels welcomed when they arrive. Incorporate ice breaker activities to help attendees initiate conversations and break down social barriers such as games, team-building exercises, or simple introductions. Have someone designated to be responsible for welcoming newcomers.


Be a Good Host:
Throughout the event, conduct brief check-ins to ensure attendees are comfortable and engaged. 

Create More Temporary Rules:
In her book, the Art of Gathering, Priya Parker, encourages more structure like start times, fixed time introductions, intentional settings. She writes that temporary rules like no last names, photos, or discussion of career, and limiting discussion topics and themes creates a temporary alternative world that level the playing field for all those attending.    

Themed Events:
Consider organizing events with specific themes that encourage interaction and participation. These could include costume parties, trivia nights, or collaborative projects.  Parker also recommended an easy way of finding a theme for your event: “Think about a need your community has, and gather around that. Then, give people context and meaning about why they’re coming together and how they might connect with each other." 

Creating a themed event or discussion adds structure to ensure connection, and ensures a more level playing field. Create a desired outcome for the participation that is clear to everyone attending beforehand to maximize the impact of the time. 

In Conclusion

All of these neighborhood activities above can help create the feeling for all that the neighborhood is more than the sum of the houses, apartments, and individuals living in them -- that there is also a source and basis of connection between us. They can help people can let their guard down and be themselves when running into each other and more easily meet each other and say hi, which develops into a sense of trust.

Not only can creating a connected neighborhood lead to feeling safer, less lonely, and have a support network with nearby neighbors in an emergency, it can also lead to new opportunities and neighborhood projects not otherwise possible, and utilize talents and ideas of people living in the community.  

It all starts by reaching out to neighbors living on either side of us and across the street and saying hi. Take a small step today in the direction of making your neighborhood feel like living in a part of a bigger family, not just a place you live in

Thank you for helping people connect at your event. Contact us to collaborate on ideas and promotions.

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