Human connection is a fundamental need, equally important as food, water, and sleep.
When you realize that, then you’ll see that social distancing does not mean social disconnection.
And in many ways, social connection is bigger than seeing your friends because you miss them.
Social connection is about getting the best out of yourself so that you can operate in a flow state– a state defined by heightened focus, peak performance, and a loss of time.
Getting together with people is valuable to your performance, and hosting virtual events during COVID is a great way you can see many people at once.
I’m throwing tons of virtual events nowadays, so I’m going to convince you to throw your own, and give you all my tips to ensure you become the host with the most.
Why You Should Host Virtual Events
You Can Get Into a Flow State
Moving in and out of flow state has a four-part cycle: recovery, struggle, release, and flow.
To maximize your flow state, you have to honor the whole cycle, including recovery.
You have to combine the right nutrition, sleep, and social support with either exercise, meditation, or breathing techniques to maintain your health. Without a proper recovery, you can’t optimize your flow state.
It’s important to reiterate that aside from wanting to keep up your social life during COVID-19, that you must stay socially connected to your friends, family, and community for your own personal health and performance.
You Can Bring Together Your Community Regardless of Location
Zoom has leveled the geographic playing field.
Virtual events bridge the gap to include groups in your social circle that would typically be excluded by location. In other words, you can bring different communities together that would otherwise never meet because of geographical differences—allowing you to enrichen conversations and connections with diversity.
All everyone has to do is log in.
You Can Stay Top of Mind in Your Network
When you are the organizer of any event, traditional or virtual, you extend an invitation to bring people together.
The act of extending your invitation, whether or not people attend, keeps you top of mind to everybody you sent the invitation to. People are more likely to remember you when it comes time to look for help, purchase products or services, or make invites to their own events.
You Create Social Capital
Many people are offering help online with statements like, “Please, don’t ever be without a place to sleep,” or “If you’re ever without a meal, hit me up.”
Though well-intentioned, these statements are borderline empty, because a very small percentage of people will actually follow through with those kinds of offers on social media.
A much better strategy is to organize like-minded people with similar interests online, then offer your help. As a natural byproduct, you’ll create tons of social capital.
You Can be More Efficient
Imagine if before COVID somebody invited you to a coffee date, and you responded with, “Can we do a Zoom?” It would be a little awkward because they would be like, “Oh, but I wanted to see you in person.”
But with social distancing, we don’t have an option.
Hopping on a quick Zoom to catch up is becoming the social norm, and though it doesn’t replace in-person connection, you can’t argue that it’s incredibly faster and more efficient than a coffee date.
The dreaded, “Can we meet over coffee so I can pick your brain?” is tired, abused, and a highly inefficient way to spend time for busy people.
More people, myself included, should utilize 15-minute Zooms over a coffee hour.
Tips to Host Successful Virtual Events
For years, businesses and professionals alike have used webinars to teach valuable skills and information. Overtime, webinars evolved into another marketing tactic with a sales pitch at the end of very little useful information. And as consumers became savvier, fewer and fewer attended.
However, we’re experiencing a huge resurgence of webinars because:
- People are at home and online more than ever
- Businesses know that now is not the time to sell
COVID has created a force function for people to deliver something valuable from their personal and professional experience without money in mind. Interestingly, when people lay off the sales engine and focus on simply helping, more people choose to opt-in.
Though they may not buy from you immediately, by providing value first, you stay top of mind, and when they’re ready to buy, they are more likely to come back to you.
Webinars are a powerful tool you can leverage to keep contact with your audience when you host them with the right intent. After hosting my successful webinar, “Flow State at Work,” I realized the tips below are what helped:
Tip #1: Determine your audience
Ask yourself, “Whom am I trying to help? And what am I trying to help them with?
Be very specific about the problem, so you can identify the exact people that would benefit from your solution.
Tip #2: Don’t worry about the audience size
The benefit of hosting webinars comes from the promotion.
Essentially, the magic is in the marketing.
The more people your marketing reaches, the better you’ll stay top of mind.
So whether 50 or 500 people come to your webinar, you’ll receive the same benefits.
Tip #3: Make sure your marketing is on point
Again, the benefit of hosting a webinar is marketing. Thus, you have to make sure your message is powerful, and you are consistently distributing your webinar promotions on all your social media channels and email lists.
Tip #3: Serve don’t sell
Webinars with any hint of sales are instantly useless.
Simply because selling means the host is not trying to teach everything. They’re purposely holding information back to sell it as a paid service or course.
Not only is it now not the time to sell, but it’s also not a useful strategy for the future.
Look at it like this: Just because you take Gordon Ramsay’s MasterClass, does not mean that you’re going to cook like him. Gordon Ramsay could pour all his secrets and skills into the class, and it still wouldn’t mean that you could replicate his dishes.
It’s the same for your skills and experiences. So put it all out there, and hey if someone can do it as well as you, good for them. But if not, know they’ll seek your help regardless.
Treat your webinar as if it were a paid consulting gig, come with the intent to serve, and don’t worry about the numbers
Tip #5: Follow up, follow up
The follow-up is essential to make sure that you continue to add value after the webinar.
Use the follow-up connection to provide all the information and resources to the people that attended and those that couldn’t come. Use it as a way to repurpose content in your social media and email marketing strategies and ultimately maintain multiple touch-points with your audience.
Again, that way, you provide more value-adds that’ll keep you top of mind.
FaceTime is for iPhone users.
Skype is for grandmas.
Houseparty is for those who want a place to go to have fun as friends.
The app recreates the classic house party on your phone with eight people or less. It’s intended to be a nighttime event where you’re kicking back and relaxing with homies.
The way it works is that up to eight people can video chat at once in a “room.” Your house party can have infinite rooms that everybody can bounce between where any of your friends of friends on the app can join. Plus, if you need a private conversation, you can lock a room anytime.
What this creates is a real house party effect, where you never quite know who pops in to say hello. I’ve had conversations with people and friends from England, India, to Brazil. I’ve even hung out with professional athletes on the app!
So for those extroverts like me out there who want to keep up with friends and meet new people while social distancing, Houseparty is a phenomenal way of doing both.
Tip #1: Send out a mass text invite to more than eight people
Like me, you can send out a text thread to 12 to 15 people saying, “Hey, I’m throwing a Houseparty Friday night at 8, drop-in, bring drink or dank.”
That way, people know that you’re throwing an event and can casually drop-in whenever they’d like as they would a regular house party.
Tip #2: Keep your phone charged
The Houseparty app drains the shit out of your battery, so keep it plugged in while you’re hosting.
Ideally, put your phone on a little stand or tripod, so you don’t have to hold it while you’re hanging.
Tip #3: Bring a drink or dank
The tip speaks for itself, pick your poison, start the event, and kick it.
Unlike a Houseparty, happy hours are for specific groups (eight or more) that you can bring together between 4-6 PM to have a drink over Zoom. They are great for the communities where you have a common bond or interest.
For example, I’ve thrown virtual happy hours for different leadership groups, and I recommend you do the same for any organization, teams, or communities you’re a part of.
Tip #1: Play around with changing your virtual background and name
Change your virtual background to funny social media pictures of people in your group.
It’s a great way to break the ice and get the conversation flowing.
You can also get a laugh by changing your name to a punchline or inside joke the group appreciates.
Tip #2: Let conversation organically happen
On Zoom, there’s always a tendency for the hosts to want to go around the room and have everybody say how they’re doing, and what they’re up to.
Don’t be that host!
Hold yourself back from trying to control the conversation. Your job is just to bring people together, not to facilitate it, so let go and let people flow.
Tip #3: Use the chat for sidebar conversations
The peanut gallery is in Zoom’s chat feature.
Use it for sidebar conversations, to make commentary, and shoot the shit while others are talking.
Bonus! Virtual Clubbing
It’s no secret that people love to get together around music.
There are many DJs out there right now who are bringing their talents onto Instagram and YouTube, where you can coordinate groups of friends to hop on a watch a particular set live.
Even better, watch what happens when you go live by streaming a playlist you love or performing.
You’ll see people just start dropping in to hang with you.
Tip #1: Play music off an external audio source
You can’t stream music and broadcast from your phone at the same time. In order to live with some music, you have to use an external audio source. You can use a speaker or use an external source streamed with an auxiliary cord. That way, you ensure you have nice and clean audio for the event.
Tip #2: Have your phone plugged in while you’re streaming
If you’re going to perform, whether you’re DJing or whether you have a talent with a musical instrument, remember to plug in your phone, so it doesn’t die midstream.
Tip #3: Broadcast your seshes to your inner circle
Start with going live just to your inner circle since it’s meant to be casual. If people drop-in, they drop-in, and if it catches, then let it catch—no need to promote these jams, unless, of course, you’re in the business.
Virtual Events are The Way of The Future
Right now, we’re all forced to be online to stay safe and practice social distancing.
As a result, hopping on a quick Zoom call just to say hi and catch up is becoming more of a social norm, where we are experiencing more comfort and de-stigmatization of getting together remotely.
In some way, it may feel like we’re in the beginning stages of Ready Player One.
But the reality is, we’ve been missing something since phone calls became a thing of the past.
Before COVID, we relied on meetups or texting. While an in-person connection is the most meaningful, it’s not always the most efficient, and while texting is the most efficient, it’s not always the most meaningful.
Virtual events balance both—an efficient but still meaningful way to connect face-to-face.
No matter what, technology will never replace in-person connection and communication.
But virtual events are filling a void right now that people need more than ever.
So get a group of friends together this weekend and make sure you’re getting enough social connection during social distancing.
If you have any questions or simply need to talk, I’m here for the extra support.