A few weeks ago, we had Dan Oltersdorf of Campus Advantage speak on creating “Community” in student housing. He had a ton of great thoughts, but one interesting comment was this: If only 5 people showed up for an event, it was still a success for those 5 people. That is assuming, of course, that they had a good time or otherwise got value out of the event, but I found that sentence to be extremely important. We get so caught up in the numbers, trying to reach every resident, that we sometimes forget that smaller events that have more focus can be much more powerful to that small audience.
I remember back to my college days where every goal for a party was to drive the numbers – we wanted the biggest and craziest party that weekend, and if only a few people showed up, it would have been considered a failure. But at the same time, I noticed that sometimes, people would be busy, and it would just be me and a handful of people hanging out, and those nights tended to be a lot more entertaining and interesting than a large group would have been.
A big factor was the “tone” of the people who did end up showing up. If they spent the entire time looking at the door waiting for the party to really start, then it was a painful night. But if everybody decided that the numbers didn’t matter, and they were there just to have a good time, then our little band ended up having a blast.
This is especially true for events at an apartment community where people don’t necessarily know each other that well, if at all. A smaller group essentially means there is nowhere to hide. A less social person can be a wallflower in a big group, but in a small group, they don’t have that escape, and besides, they have less pressure because of the smaller group.
In this case, it is just as important, if not more so, that you have a strong social person to lead the event and get people talking, but that seemingly failed event can make a very big difference for those small number of people. There is a much better chance that those five people will form residual bonds beyond the event, compared to a larger party.
Although 5 people is still probably logistically too small to do on a regular basis, consider the benefits of smaller events at your community where people can really get to know each other in a less pressurized situation!
What do you think?