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No One Needs To Be Left Out: The Role of Closeness In Events 

People won’t feel left out when they feel close to each other.

Feeling included has nothing to do with surveys or having a meet-up before an event, it’s when people are aligned with each other and know what it feels like to be part of something with others. 

When you lean into closeness, trust is the by-product. This fosters a sense of safety.

Yet, the paradox of feeling left out persists.

Shifting The Way Its Been Done

In the build-up to YATM Creator Day 2024, the focus has shifted this year. Normally, when it comes to organising an event, the predominant emphasis is on the presenters who people pay attention to. What if we flipped that and paid attention to each other?

One comment has stuck with me since the early days of our Lunch Club events. Someone said, ‘you are all having fun on the inside, so I feel easier to be on the outside.’ To have a place at the table, you have to show up and it can feel nervous, but it has to take that commitment.

When you build a space for people to be a part of, people seek connection and validation. If you can do that, people will never feel left out. 

Reflecting on my own experiences organising events, I’ve come to realise that the essence of a successful gathering lies not in the logistics or the people you want as the stars of the show, but in the sense of camaraderie and belonging it fosters.

When you view your audience not as mere transactions but as people seeking a genuine connection, you lay the groundwork for something that can build momentum.

Why Do People Feel Left Out?

People feel like outsiders when there is a lack of connection with others. 

This is what I have experienced over the years, maybe you have too?

Cliques Already Formed.

When you step into a networking space for the first time it can feel dispiriting. People who are new to an industry or event, may feel left out if they struggle to find common ground or break into established conversations.

A Hierarchy.

I have been a part of events with a clear power dynamic. It means that some people gain more attention than others. This, in turn, starts to feel intimidating and even worse, overlooked. This is where exclusion sets in.

VIP-only activities.

This is where there is a sense of exclusiveness, which can make others feel excluded, or inferior. I certainly felt that as perceived favouritism heightened that feeling of being left out.

Social Anxiety Takes Centre Stage.

When you are with crowds of people, many of whom you don’t know, it can feel overwhelming and also uncomfortable. When I began my business, I went to networking events, but I was always the first person to leave. 

Ignored Contributions.

If ideas are continually ignored, it can be dispiriting. No one wants to feel undervalued. This is heightened in settings such as collaborative projects, memberships and feedback sessions. 

The question is, can we create spaces where people feel welcome and valued?

Examples To Share With You

I’ve encountered instances where people have been vocal about feeling marginalised and overlooked. 

Let me share two examples:

YATM Creator Lab. Working with Bournemouth & Poole College students, making that step into a business event is a new experience for many of the cohort. When you are a young adult with limited experience it can feel uncomfortable.

The sense of feeling left out could be the perception of thinking others know more than them, or even that majority of people already know each other, or just that it’s not their turn yet. I asked one of the groups for the Creator Day podcast. You can listen here.

A conversation with a Creator Day attendee. A recent conversation was simply, ‘I feel nervous.’ It can feel hard to make that step into the space and get to know others.

It’s easy to stick with the people we know, rather than that first hello. Or if you don’t know anyone, it can be an even bigger hurdle.

From that conversation, we are going to introduce Chief Hello Officers (CHOs), these are people who will give a friendly hello straight away and without an introduction, both attendee and CHO know that feeling settled is the number one priority. 

Approached To Help People Feel Close To Each Other

What you do was never meant for everyone, so the people you focus on, you have to be committed to it.

Here are four approaches to consider. 

Do it for the people, not to them.

When you dictate the delivery, it becomes a one-sided flow of information. When you keep yourself distant from the people who have committed, then you’ll never have the opportunity to get closer. When you create relevant work, you can then heighten the importance for people to feel a part of the whole occasion. You help people get to where they want to go.

Allow people to feel involved.

When you start, the majority of the work is on you, but over time, others begin contributing. Input and momentum move between members and their interactions.

The whole effort starts to grow and build in strength. You can empower people to take an active role in shaping the culture of your community. For instance, for Creator Day ’24 we created a WhatsApp Group, we celebrate birthdays, we ask questions, we ask who wants to join in on the Creator Day Podcast. Closeness comes from encouraging participation.

Give people status.

This means going beyond listening, but to empower people. It pays to acknowledge the contributions of others. For instance, at the start of the day the first people attendees will see at Creator Day will be a group of students from Bournemouth & Poole College to welcome and hand over the workbooks.

At the end of the day for the working together section we have 12 community leaders helping to guide people through the activity. You can make everyone feel valued and appreciated.

Build warmth.

Creating a culture of hospitality is important. For instance, you can build an occasion before the occasion by attendees getting to know each other better, or introductions amongst others to be easier.

When people book to attend an event, they don’t need an email as a receipt, they have to be made welcome and find ways to become involved and know they are seen and valued. When people are welcomed with open arms, it changes the whole dynamic.

Let’s Round-Up 

Nobody wants to feel excluded. By shifting our focus from wanting more to creating the best experience for the right people, we cultivate genuine connections and how we can feel slightly closer to each other.

By prioritising active participation, you can create a space where everyone feels seen and heard. 

Ultimately, it’s not about the glitz and glamour of personal recognition, but about the bonds forged and connections nurtured. We can create spaces where everyone feels welcomed, valued, and ultimately, close to each other. The true magic lies not in the grandeur of the event, but in the warmth with each other we form along the way.

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