Engaging your people

Published on: August 31, 2014
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The world has been and is continually shifting towards new ways of engaging people. We are living in an age where ‘social’ is the buzz word, yet, the way we communicate has become anything but. In fact it makes me wonder whether the new ‘social’ leads to less real connectivity with the people who matter most?

People have less time to stop and talk. Meetings have become remote, the handshake has become a ‘like’ and the phone call has become the ‘instant message’. Yet, we know more about our customers than ever before. Their age profile, preferences and how many children they have etc etc. But does this lead to a meaningful relationship where they feel ‘understood’ by you? How do you go that extra mile to stop talking digital and start actually talking again?

Fashion of course is my connecting tool. I have connected many brands and companies with their customers through meaningful fashion content. It can bridge that gap for companies trying to achieve other goals. Whether you want to provide a corporate networking opportunity, a retail customer evening or perhaps create some real life fashion videos to share on your digital channels offering your followers more live interaction? In fact the most social company of them all not so long ago engaged with Stylefish to organise a class for staff!

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As we start into the Autumn season, I thought I would share my TOP 8 TIPS on running events (fashion orientated or otherwise) that will allow you to better connect with your very special audience.

1. Choose a great venue. Many people are drawn to events because of the venue! Curiosity is a powerful force and people also want to ‘socially’ tell others they are attending an event in the latest hottest bar, restaurant or venue. I am organising a fashion show & class for an event with a corporate client in Fade Street Social at the end of the month and this is a big part of the excitement!

2.  Believe people will come If you organise an event with elements of fun, surprise and added value, people will come. No hard sell, no hidden meaning. If the purpose of your event is to provide a networking opportunity for your people, business topics alone are not always the answer. Choose a speaker or content that the invitees will enjoy, learn from and be motived and inspired by. The same event I mentioned above will enjoy a fashion show of the latest seasons trends from House of Fraser organised by Stylefish. Fashion is a fun, interactive topic that makes networking easier!

 3. Think about your event structure & be clear No matter how well people may know each other, planning ‘how’ people will interact and what they will do is key. Things like giving out name badges, offering wine and nibbles, room set up, setting up time slots for different parts of the event so people clearly know what to expect. People like to know what they can expect, when they can expect it and what benefit it will have for them.

 4. Shorter is better. People don’t view ‘value’ in terms of time. Shorter, better structured events with quality content is key to audience buy in.

 5. It is the little things that make a big difference. Sending out event reminders, location and contact maps, event itineraries, a list of attendee (if it is reasonable to do so), fun content snippets (I sometimes put together a short 30 second video to get people excited about my classes & topics) and of course thank you’s afterwards. People value the little things. It shows you care and really helps build that connection.

6. Look for support. You can’t do everything yourself. I have found this a lot with companies. One person is left to organise everything to the detriment of the activity or event. How can this possibly mean all the objectives are successfully met? Stylefish offers full support to our clients depending on their needs. From organising fashion shows, printing requirements, meet and greet, post event customer interaction, e marketing campaigns, digital and offline marketing plans, follow up customer engagement & follow up support.

7. Say thank you. We all know that time is precious to people and so if you want to a happy and repeat audience say thank you with little gifts. The key to this is to understand your audience and their interests. Stylefish organises fashion & beauty related goodie bags with brands we work with on events. Brands like LK bennett, The Body Shop, House of Fraser and others that are usually delighted to have an opportunity to reach your customers through corporate events.

 8. Hire great speakers. Of course I am biased here but I really believe content is key and hiring speakers has evolved in the last few years. A lot. It used to be a lot easier. The traits you looked for were: charisma, presence, eloquence, storytelling. These are undoubtedly still important but with more digitally savvy and demanding audiences (with access to so much free content online), the question has become do you want good or do you want great? Here are my tips on what is important:

Social Media* Look for speakers that understand and harness the power of social media in creating profile for your event. A good speaker should have a healthy and engaged following on various social media platforms. I always see a key part of my involvement is in adding value, increasing event reach, creating meaningful online content and sharing it on my various social channels.

* Understanding that you get what you pay for. The most important part of this for me is having 100% confidence in your attendee walking away having had an exceptional experience. You want someone who wants to put effort into their talk and your event. One that spends time researching your audience and is committed to the success of the event.

* An understanding of the technology involved. Having the right equipment, projectors, microphones, social media apps, understanding if there is technology to support the Q&A in place etc. While not necessarily to do with the quality of the speaker it is the difference between a modern speaker serious about what they do.

*Professionally designed and tailored slides that is specifically aimed at your audience. That’s it. It should be a given.

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* Engagement. The reason you hold your event in the first place. You want a speaker who is at ease getting your audience involved. Known in the event world as ‘horizontal interaction’, facilitating conversations, discussion or group activity. At a very basic level, someone who sets out their rationale, has fun activities and stories throughout and who gives people a clear key message to take away. I use style guides (sometimes personalised) so clients can enjoy my talk knowing they will be getting a take away guide. A nice touch is to add your company brand to the guide.

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* Understand your audience. Walk away from the person who does not ask you about the audience, their age profile, job titles, expected objectives etc. Connecting with your audience and ensuring a happy event, follows from relevant content aimed at the specifics of your audience.

I hope this has been helpful in getting you think of how you engage with your people this Autumn. If Stylefish can help with your corporate event, team building activity or customer content, don’t be shy! You can reach me at julie@stylefish.ie

Happy event planning!

Julie 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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