Wednesday, November 4, 2015

How to eliminate event invite apathy once and for all.

An epidemic disease is rotting special events on social media.  I need to address this immediately.
Since the influx of social media and broadcast email, we now receive notices on all measure of events for work, career, and community that may have never been known previously about. These invites are waiting for us when we log into our various social media platforms and email accounts.  Yet, people want to attend and don’t. Here are the real reasons why and what needs to be done about it.  
I call this behavior “the indifferent use of the Facebook Maybe/Interested.” I define this action as follows: “When given three choices with an invite to an event, so many people will just mechanically click the ‘maybe’ or ‘interested’ response as the safe course of action. “ 
I’m sure it started innocently as a way to indicate, “If I can attend your event – I will. I’m just not sure I can.” Over time, it has degraded down into, “I truly haven’t got the guts to tell you no, since I kind of like you. If I have an event or need something from you anytime soon I want for you to come, and while you may have costs of staging the event if I do get my butt in gear and show up, I want for there to be something for me to eat and drink … so I will just say maybe. This way you may hold out hope and will take care of me, but I secretly can’t tell you don’t hold your breath.”
Pathetic. 
For the past two hundred years, event invites have asked for a response with the term "R├ępondez s'il vous plait." It is French for Respond If You Please. This was considered the customary way to ensure a proper headcount. Yet, the proper and polite nature of such a request is totally lost in our advanced uses of interactive technology.
Someone has to do something about the Facebook Maybe/Interested. That someone is me!  I feel this should be eradicated with more might and muscle than the Centers for Disease Control can manifest. (Before I go further, I do want full and total credit for this idea. We can discuss the details of that later when you thank me for this.)
I propose the following solution.  I propose when any invite goes out using a social media site, an email or even one of those archaic paper printed invitations that sneak in the mailbox; you, as the event planner,  give your guests only one of two choices. Say I need either a Hard Yes or a Hard No response. The invite will also state if I don’t hear from you a set time before the event, I will just simply assume it is a Hard No.
The intent is simple: either you as a guest are making plans to show or you are not.  99 and 44/100ths percent of the time, you will know in advance if you plan to go or not. Come out and say a Hard No if you either have or even perceive a conflict, are on the wrong side of payday, don’t want to participate or just don’t want to deal with the invitee or someone else who might be in attendance. Honesty is the best policy and if some guy wants you to come to his networking lunch and learn or seminar, it’s really okay to tell him no. I really don’t mind you telling me that either.
Hard Yes means you are 100%  in. By this, you are communicating to your host, “Make sure you save me a place. I want to be there, am looking forward to this and will have a good time if you do.”  It helps the host to know all these things and more. Nothing is more stressful then adding chairs, needing more food or supplies, wondering if someone is really going to show or dealing with someone who may have said it only in their own mind then shows up at the last minute in person. I’ve been on that side of hosting the event many times in my career.  
And to not say anything at all … Well, that should be grounds for the death penalty or at least social media ex-communication. That’s why the request is for a Hard Yes orHard No. Because this your word and you stand by it with both confidence and certainty.
We all know that “things happen.” A flat tire, a deadline at work, or a sick kid transpires when you least expect it. Most hosts understand that. But, to treat people poorly when they thought of you with little more than a milk toast “I wuz gonna …” – You are telling them with your wimpy politeness that you really don’t want for them to invite you to anything ever again.  Respond with Facebook Maybe’s and Interested’s to them enough times and it really happens. You could miss out on something that could be significant for you, just because you are acting passively polite. 
If we start with simple social media invites, this could lead to less wishy-washy behaviors, people actually getting their needs met and clear concise communication between people.  “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,” to quote John Lennon. 
If you agree, give me a Hard Yes.