The Art of Building Community through Events
By Olivia Brooks Allan
As Head of an Events Practice that relied almost exclusively on congregating in-person before the Global Pandemic, we learned the advantages of being agile and staying focused on the most important part of our role—adapting and delivering! By creating pivot plans for events that allow for a dynamic and fluid approach to creating a commonality and strong takeaway, we are able to successfully build the connecting roads between companies, corporations, and people.
Right now, I am being asked a lot, “What’s next?” and “How do I approach In-Person, Virtual, or Hybrid Events to make this sort of impact?” Overall, my message and advice in many ways hasn’t changed much since early 2020 – and that is just do something! We firmly believe at Landmark that connections matter and in the modern way that we live and interact today means there is an increased opportunity and responsibility to be inclusive and implement different event types into your repertoire. Events provide accessibility to all communities by effectively sharing a cohesive message on multiple platforms. An event does not need to be a multi-million-dollar investment; it just needs to be a warm (virtual or live!) environment with people who want to further nurture their own –or their companies– trajectories. We had to learn how to offer our services in a way that was meaningful and impactful in the current times.
In the Summer 2021, as we slowly began to re-introduce ourselves to live events, we began adapting a hybrid event style – small, VIP groups in person, with larger, targeted audiences of thousands experiencing our virtual stages. So, what are the actual advantages of this hybrid style?
1. Increase Profit for Your Company: The more high-quality attendees you can solicit to an event, the better. At Landmark, we pride ourselves in forging meaningful connections. By hosting hybrid events, you are able to create high-value networking opportunities in person, while simultaneously giving additional companies and corporations opportunities through modern technology. This in turn not only creates more profitable opportunities for clients, but also ourselves.
2. Connect a Diverse and Inclusive Background: One of my favorite advantages of events is the more robust sense of equality created across different companies, corporations, and individuals and the ability to “spread knowledge”. After a strong networking reception or lively cocktail evening, observations, tools, and tips are shared and traded. Attendees can then return to their work, apply new skills, or tell their neighbors about a newly learned skill. Thus, unknowingly, or even unintentionally, startups to major corporations- are given the same knowledge and information.
3. Align Business and its Objectives: As a team, we focus on identifying first and foremost what are the business objectives? What is your budget? Do you need a one-to-many experience, or are your business objectives better served by creating an intimate, more curated experience? The answers to these questions matter deeply in how you direct your resources, and identifying your own answers better propels you to share, and gain, useful knowledge.
4. Define Your Format: Let’s Be Clear about Hosting an Event—it’s complicated and there isn’t one way to do it. Make sure to identify what you consider to be a success prior to hosting the event. This helps to set reasonable goals, align you in budgeting, and streamline your work process, and balance expectations. At Landmark, drawing the audience in after a successful virtual show has been successful for us.
Now that the advantages of Hybrid Events have been overviewed, I wanted to delve into some of my “Do’s and Don’ts” in the Hybrid World to get you or your company on the right path in creating a successful experience:
Do: Invest in a Knowledgeable and Trusted Production Company
This is my first piece of advice for anyone wanting to create a Hybrid Event (where attendees join both in-person and through technology platforms). We want attendees to feel like they are in person, and even more importantly, feel that they are getting the same experience (or as close to as possible!) as the people participating live. Investing in a trusted production company (if you are able to!) ensures that all aspects of the attendee journey are smooth, stable, and enjoyable! @brandlive @ims @cramer
Don’t: Assume Everything Will Go Smoothly; Over-prepare!
Producing a live event is challenging enough, so make sure to have everything that could go wrong ahead of your event and pro-actively prepare solutions! For example, someone cannot log onto the event and is messaging on the help hotline. Ensure you have someone quick to answer at all times so limited event is missed. Have a handy Google doc or Word sheet with all links, passwords, etc. that the attendee might need for easy reference! Our Team knows that I will ask for Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. If we have to flip an event to 100% virtual within 48 hours’ notice, we have that plan in place. In today’s world health, safety, and weather-related events are at the forefront of our planning.
Do: Bring Joy.
Our CEO, Zeev Klein, often reminds me we need to have joy! We are constantly thinking of creative ways to surprise and delight our attendees with special touches.
Don’t: Forget to Communicate the Changes.
Our “know before you go” information is communicative to the fact that this won’t be the same experience of two years ago once you arrive onsite – but here’s what to expect. For example, the footprint for an in-person event looks much different than it did before the Pandemic. We no longer have seas of ballroom seating for lunch; rather we’ve opted for high-boys and smaller tables and the chance to stand and connect. It is imperative to think through that most of our attendees can now pause to take a walk in their neighborhood or retrofit their homes with standing desks during hybrid events. We want our in-person events to reflect the way we live has changed, but we also don’t want to surprise anyone. Over-communicating what will be different this event helps your attendees to feel assured that you’ve thought of everything before they’ve even set foot onsite.
Building Communities through Events is something I will always be a strong proponent for. The advantages mentioned above ring true in all of our client relationships, and the tips I listed below are implemented into every one of our events. Our flagship event at Landmark Ventures is our Social Innovation Summit upcoming on June 7-8 (otherwise known as SIS) will integrate a lot of our learnings from the last two years as well as incorporate new ways of delighting our attendees. This Summit is held in Washington, D.C. this year and is curated towards thousands of attendees, companies and corporations who want to see significant impact and progress through Social Innovation. The continued benefits seen through this Summit are astronomical and proven, and I am proud to promote the hard work that my team has thoughtfully and tirelessly put into it.
Feel free to check out our soon-approaching Social Innovation Summit at their LinkedIn page, or check out below for additional details:
If the topic areas of Social Innovation is relevant to you please feel free to DM me on LinkedIn – we have a few spaces left and I would love to welcome you!