Since I’ve been exposed to the online world of social media, I’ve discovered a fascination with building communities, actually, I think I’ve always had it.
My passion for building networks and communities transcends through all kinds of subjects, areas and businesses.
My role in my framing business, is all about the relationship I have with the customers, the knowledge I impart, the guidance and confidence given. I love seeing people’s faces when they are guided to a decision, armed with knowledge and support.
As part of all this discovery I’ve been doing lately, last week saw me organise an ArtMeet. This was born out of my part as a Committee Member for the North Somerset Arts organisation (NSA), my experience of recent TweetMeets I have attended, building relationships with customers and being part of a business network.
The idea was to get the Committee Members and the Artists (who have or want to participate in the North Somerset Arts Week) in the same room.
But this wasn’t a meeting, workshop or presentation. No, this was a social…a social I hear you cry…whatever for?
Well, that was the kind of response I thought I would get for the very suggestion and it’s true to say, I’m not sure everyone got it or saw the point. Trying out any new concept in an established organisation is always going to be tricky. Nevertheless, the Committee were very kind and enthusiastic and willing to try it out.
A date was made and was communicated to the “NSA Community” via Newsletter, Facebook and Twitter.
The venue was The George Pub in Backwell and tickets were only £3 with some food on offer. In the beginning the uptake was, well, slow.
Oh gawd what have I let myself in for, I thought. Not only had I chosen a date on top of our business move but I was beginning to feel like the only girl at her own party.
After the deadline for tickets had passed, we had a sudden flurry of tickets sold and I was pleased with this, at least I won’t be on my own!
So, along comes Thursday evening in the pub. I get there early in case of any arrivals. I lay out my name labels, my pad, pens…get myself a drink and I wait…and I wait.
Finally, the first friendly face turned up and greeted by an empty area of the pub, they look slightly worried. The next half an hour saw it get busier and my stress levels were slightly reduced (although my voice was rather high, fixed smile and greeting profusely – I get very clumsy when I’m nervous!).
Once the room started filling up, and I carried on booking people in, to my surprise, when I next turned around, the room was full of smiley faces and endless conversations.
The buffet arrived in all it’s glory and I swear a gasp came from the audience! The food looked amazing (as you can hear me constantly saying in my film, like a Parrot. No George, amazing is when someone with no head, no legs and no arms manages to climb a mountain, not a bunch of Chicken Wings & Mince Pies – I had a hard childhood).
On the spur of the moment, I decided it would be a good idea to film and interview people in full swing. This turned out to be a good idea, although the film is very crudely done it does get the point across.
By the way, has anyone ever used Flip Share? You can only set the music either not at all, loudly over the top or so quiet in the background you wouldn’t know it was on. Still, as I say, it did the job.
After thinking that I actually was Dennis Pennis on the red carpet, I decided to get back to my role as host for the rest of the evening.
To my surprise, people were still there at the end (yes, I saw you take a doggie bag/serviette).
Everyone seemed enthused and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. BUT most of all, they got the point. The point was to start building a community, you need a community in order to connect. In order to connect, you have to meet. For some people it’s online, for some face to face or both. I enjoy both.
The consensus was that the Artists enjoyed it, putting names to faces, talking over the challenges each other face. They welcomed getting out of their studios for a night of swapping stories and inspiration.
Also, by artists meeting the committee, we don’t become “faceless”. People want to know who’s steering the organisation. It was also great for the committee to interact, get feedback and opinions too. Everyone learned something that night.
This, my friends, is the beginning of a beautiful community!
A community where people understand the challenges, a community where they are less resistant to change and more inclined to contribute, a community where people get to voice their opinions without fear of rejection, a community where people help each other out with problems and readily give solutions, a community where we can all tackle the future safe in the knowledge that the leading group have the organisations and artists best interests at heart.
Rumours are already circulating that the next one might be a barbecue on the beach! So, it looks like there will be another at some point but we don’t want too much of a good thing eh? We’ll leave it a wee while…
Take a look at the film … what better place to be on a cold winters night? Okay, so there’s that … if you should be so lucky!
View the video here