How To Host Excellent Events: Lessons From New York Fashion Week

Hosting memorable events is a skill, and learning it will enhance relationships in business and life

STANLEY STERIL

In a world where we connect via technology in an instant, relationships are still best built in person. Calls can be efficient for getting things done, but there is nothing like sitting across the table from someone if you want to understand them and have them understand you. Humans are social creatures after all.

There is a limit to what we can achieve by sitting in our silos, even with the best books and fastest internet connections. Jordana Guimarães, who runs Fashinnovation, a conference on innovation in the fashion industry says that “the only way for people to keep growing is through collaboration.”

Hosting events, for work and for pleasure, has huge benefits, that last a lifetime. As Dorie Clark says in her book Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It, if you become the connector of people, you build a community that is grateful to you, but isn’t about you.

Today In: Leadership

However, we have all been to events which were a waste of time and money. Events which guests leave with regret, thinking they will never get that time back, are damaging to their hosts’ reputations. Like most things in life, putting thought behind hosting an event, rather than simply hiring a venue and inviting people, is what makes the difference.

New York Fashion Week is one of the most visible festivals on the planet, and expectations for excellence are high. This year, Fashinnovation was one of the first events of the glamorous week, and gathered designers, celebrities, technology founders and retail buyers under one roof. What were the keys to the event being a success?

Have a clear aim

Events that have a clear aim are those that leave guests coming back for more. Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering, says “every meeting should be organized around a desired outcome.” For Fashinnovation, the desired outcome is collaboration. By bringing designers, retailers and technologists under one roof, Guimarães is creating an opportunity for ideas to spark and partnerships to form.

You do not have to host an event at one of the most glamorous festivals on the planet to apply those same principles. If your company is organizing an event, think about what the ideal outcome would be, not for yourself, but for your guests.

An event that has the sole purpose of selling your services is not going to be interesting. Events where guests can learn, be inspired or connect to people they do not normally see will be memorable and will leave them with a positive impression of you. This is far more likely to lead to lasting business relationships than another sales presentation.

Entrepreneur and Fashinnovation speaker Susan Rockefeller with Fashinnovation founders Jordana and Marcelo Guimaraes

STANLEY STERIL

The show must go on

Whether you are planning a conference or a dinner party, it is very likely that something will not go to plan. A key speaker will cancel last minute, the caterers will not deliver your order, or a venue will have a leaking roof. The bigger your event, the higher the likelihood of something going wrong.

While you may feel the pull of panic, it is likely that your guests will neither notice nor care. Guimarães says “no one has to know if something goes wrong, and no one does unless you show that it is.”  A panicking host will spook the guests, so remember to keep calm and carry on. Most problems are solvable.

Quality is more important than quantity

Unless you are organizing a rave, your guests will be more impressed by the quality conversations they have rather than the quantity of guests. Guimarães argues that niche and boutique gatherings are better for making lasting connections.

This September, Fashinnovation had 80 speakers and 600 attendees, but Guimarães will be scaling back for New York Fashion Week in February 2020 to enable guests to make more meaningful connections. Putting the needs of your guests first, rather than the desire to constantly expand, is what separates events we remember from those we forget.

Learning to become a great host is a life skill to enhance friendships, get clients and build your reputation. But like anything that bears fruit, it must be tended to. If you host events with thought, and differentiate yourself from the plethora of pointless gatherings, you will be remembered for all the right reasons.

[“source=forbes”]