CommBuild

last person joined: 20 days ago 

Focused on building and sustaining online and offline communities for nonprofits and other mission-driven organizations. The CommBuild group is focused on building and sustaining online and offline communities for nonprofits and other mission-driven organizations. Anyone interested in community building, whether you are formally in a community management job or not, is welcome to join the group.

Pac-Man rule (how to help attendees connect at in-person events?)

  • 1.  Pac-Man rule (how to help attendees connect at in-person events?)

    Posted Oct 23, 2017 17:38
    I've been to a few conferences that had a Pac-Man rule* and a no-one-eats-alone "rule." I'm curious how others help foster a culture of welcoming at their in-person events. What works and doesn't work?


    * I found this blog post about the Pac-Man rule: http://ericholscher.com/blog/2017/aug/2/pacman-rule-conferences/. I love it.


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    Bethany Lister
    Community Engagement Manager
    Nonprofit Technology Network
    bethany@nten.org
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 2.  RE: Pac-Man rule (how to help attendees connect at in-person events?)

    Posted Oct 24, 2017 07:33
    Introductions start with me. I have to be willing to go out of my comfort zone and extend my hand to somebody new and introduce myself. This is no easy feat.

    My brother, a football coach, told his team players that it was their responsibility when at a college party, to look around and identify The Wallflower and bring them into the fold. People on the fringe, those nonteam members they didn't know, were actually fans, people from the stand who showed up to watch them play. The smallest gesture a player could make was to introduce himself and introduce the Fan to everyone else. Humanity is a team sport and no one should be left on the sidelines.

    Some people just aren't good at introductions, or are generally socially awkward. When I take the initiative I can put that to rest, and reassure the new person that silence is OK in the conversation. But I have to put aside my own fear of meeting somebody new.

    In the group setting, I ask open-ended questions that anyone in the group can answer. Maybe it's a simple "how did you tackle that challenge?" And then we can go around the circle. Being an active inclusionist requires being observant, a good listener and fearless interviewer

    Sent from my iPhone


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  • 3.  RE: Pac-Man rule (how to help attendees connect at in-person events?)

    Posted Oct 24, 2017 10:41
    Thanks for sharing this, @Bethany Lister! I love the idea of publicly setting a tone of networking early. Lucky for me, you posted this just in time for me to help include some of these ideas in WordCamp Seattle in just two weeks.

    One similar concept I find useful is talking about the "hallway track" i.e., the time and physical space between sessions filled with networking and small-group sharing. We call this out to our attendees and at least hope it gets at a similar point.​

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    Mark Root-Wiley

    MRW Web Design / MRWweb.com / @MRWweb
    Thoughtful WordPress Website for Nonprofits & Mission-Driven Organizations
    Seattle, WA
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 4.  RE: Pac-Man rule (how to help attendees connect at in-person events?)

    Posted Oct 24, 2017 11:26
    I have nothing to add, but to say thank you for this conversation and so many others I read on this forum. I learned a lot in this thread. I run a small marketing and design meetup in our neck of the woods and I'll be sure to implement these ideas at our next meetup.

    Thanks again.

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    Dennis Powers
    Business Development
    Cheeky Monkey Media
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 5.  RE: Pac-Man rule (how to help attendees connect at in-person events?)

    Posted Oct 24, 2017 11:25
    I used to be a synagogue Executive Director, and so much of my work was focused on being a "warm and welcoming congregation." I have never heard of the "PacMan Rule" before, but I love it. Reminds me of what I used to talk about to my board.

    If we all abdicate our shared responsibility for creating community to our membership committee, then people will not feel very welcome at our congregation. We all need to assume some of that responsibility. When someone walks into our congregation, welcome them. When someone is sitting alone, sit with them. When someone is leaving by themselves, invite them out with you.

    Simple? Difficult? Meaningful? Impactful? Yes.​

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    Larry Glickman
    Director Network Engagement and Collaboration
    Union for Reform Judaism
    New York, NY
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  • 6.  RE: Pac-Man rule (how to help attendees connect at in-person events?)

    Posted Oct 31, 2017 21:05
    Love this thread!

    Do you think it's imposing/demanding/uninviting to call these things "rules" (ex. Pac-Man Rule, "no one eats alone" rule) at your community events?

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    Bethany Lister
    Community Engagement Manager
    Nonprofit Technology Network
    bethany@nten.org
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    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline


  • 7.  RE: Pac-Man rule (how to help attendees connect at in-person events?)

    Posted Nov 01, 2017 11:41
    That's a great question, @Bethany Lister! My personal take is that a positive tone matters a lot, but people are also more likely to follow along if something like that is stated more strongly.

    I was talking with a really experienced event organizer-who liked the Pac Man rule when I shared it!-who said something that really clicked with me, to the effect of "people don't respond to encouragement, they follow along with the way things are."

    She at least felt pretty strongly that we shouldn't ask people to network but rather state "this is an event where it's normal for someone you don't know to join a conversation." This all clicked for me because I've been to a number of unconferences, and this assertiveness is how the most successful organizers communicate.

    For instance, there's an unconference "rule" sometimes referred to as the "law of two feet" (though at Accessibility Camp Seattle-which has the cutest logo of all time-the organizers didn't want to use that and were searching for a more inclusive name!). It goes something like this:

    • If a session isn't a good fit for you, leave and find one that suits you more.
    • If someone walks out of your session, don't assume it's because the presentation is bad. (Other people may be joining your session late after leaving others.)
    This simple instruction works and people really embrace it when it's delivered as the way things are.

    So I'm just one data point with limited experience, but this is all a long way of saying that I think calling it a "rule" is fine as long as you do so with a smile...like Pac Man.​

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    Mark Root-Wiley

    MRW Web Design / MRWweb.com / @MRWweb
    Thoughtful WordPress Website for Nonprofits & Mission-Driven Organizations
    Seattle, WA
    ------------------------------

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline