By Bailey Richert | @baileyrichert | Business Coach for Beginning + Budding Infopreneurs
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In another blog post of mine, How to Launch a Virtual Summit, I lay out my 12-step process for launching a virtual summit in just 90 days. While this is certainly a great guide, it's only after you have hosted a virtual summit for yourself that you realize some of the more nuanced tips and tricks that an infopreneur can utilize to host their event seamlessly.
In this post, I outline 14 such pieces of wisdom I would like to impart upon new virtual summit hosts in the hope that they will remember to apply these lessons to plan, launch and execute the most successful virtual summit they can the first time.
A virtual summit is so much more than just a marketing tactic which can grow your email list. It's an incredible way to connect with influencers and begin forming real business relationships. It's also an incredible way to establish your authority in your niche, to become 'known' for something specific. If you approach your virtual summit already knowing this, you are more likely to conduct your event in a way that fosters these relationships and positions your expertise better than if you are just in it for the new email subscribers.
There is a lot of prep work to get your virtual summit up and running before you even announce it to the world. It can be easy to believe that once you share it with your list one time in your weekly email newsletter that the hardest parts are over. Not so! Promotion of your event, which will last about 3 weeks before your virtual summit goes live, is absolutely critical to its success. You can't just assume your guest speakers will do this for you. You, as the host, have to take the lead, and that means having a promotional plan in place.
If you're a beginning or budding infopreneur with a small budget, don't waste it hiring designers and contractors to come in and make your summit look more fancy to compensate for effort you need to be putting into promotion. You can do so much of the branding, promotional graphics and more yourself for little to no cost. Instead, invest your budget in really good technical systems to make the user-experience for your attendees flawless, and put the rest into promotional activities like social media ads. The bottom line is, you don't have to spend a fortune to have a successful virtual summit. The less you spend up front, the more profitable your event will be.
Once word gets out that you're creating an incredible virtual summit, many people will approach you to be considered for a guest speaking position. Just because they pitch to you, doesn't mean you need to allow them a spot. You need to be sure that their brand aligns with your brand, and you also need to be sure that the content they want to speak on aligns with your overall summit topic.
Contrary to what many might believe, you don't need to gather together only the top-level influencers or 'celebrities' in your niche to have a succesful virtual summit. In fact, you may have more success inviting 'mid-level' influencers instead who will truly partner with you to make your event a success. A mid-level influencer is someone who likely has an email list of several thousand (not tens or hundreds of thousands) and their own devoted group of followers.
You don't need to broadcast hour-long interviews during your summit. Many attendees believe that is way too long. They simply can't dedicate that amount of time to watch, and more often than not, the host and guest speaker will simply end up rambling to fill the space. Keep your interviews to a half hour or less. Also, as the host, it's your job to keep the interview on track. Come prepared with a list of questions, and keep the interview focused on finding out the answers.
Wording your invitation to a potential guest speaker is important. You don't want to beg them and make them feel that they are doing you a favor. Instead, you want to present yourself as a colleague that is 'on their level' of influence and present the summit as a collaborative opportunity during which they will benefit as much as you will.
Several emails may go back and forth between you and the influencers you invite to be a part of your virtual summit before they officially commit to participating in your event. It is important that you do not mistake an interest in your virtual summit as a commitment. You must ensure that the influencer has agreed to do an interview with you before advertising their participation to the general public. If you start advertising their participation before they have committed, this may ruin the relationship you were trying to build with them.
You should not plan any other major activities during your business during the week of your virtual summit. You should not expect to get a lot of blogging done. You shouldn't book yourself on any podcasts or media interviews. The virtual summit should be your number one priority, and it deserves your full attention.
Before and during your virtual summit you should be engaging with your guest speakers and attendees as much as you possibly can. This is an opportunity for you to offer incredible customer service and show your new audience how attentive you can be to their needs. Respond to every single email you receive. Reply to every social media post. Also, don't outsource this task to a virtual assistant. You need to be on the front lines engaging.
By the end of the summit you will have grown your email list and your online community. You now have hundreds or thousands of new audience members that are just waiting to see what you bring to the table. Don't disappoint them by letting your email list grow cold over weeks or months after your event. Have a plan for how you are going to leverage this new growth in your business to make a real impact with your next immediate offering.
During your virtual summit, you're going to receive a lot of comments from viewers. Many of these will be positive, and it will fill your heart with joy to know that your event has helped so many people. Still, some will feel the need to reach out to you with criticism. In their defense, many people do feel that they are providing you with constructive criticism, no matter how negatively it comes across. As the host, it is your job to respond to these individuals as professionally as possible. Whether or not you decide to implement their suggested changes is up to you, but either way you should not let any negative feedback cause you to respond negatively either.
Recording video over the internet is still not great, despite the technological age we live in. To ensure that you have a good recording, use a wired internet connection (not a wireless one) if you can. If you are still producing a bad connection, remember that it's more important to have good audio rather than video. You might want to even turn your webcam off if that means you'll be able to record better audio. (Though, you should only do this for one or two interviews. If you find yourself recording all of your interviews as audio-only, you need to find a better recording solution.)
Virtual summits are exciting, and you should be motivated to dive right in. But the best virtual summits come from hosts who understand that you need to have a plan of attack and follow-through. You need to set goals for yourself. You need to self-impose deadlines. You need to have a real promotional plan in place for your summit.
Not sure where to get started creating a plan for your virtual summit? Virtual Summit School is the self-paced online program which will walk you through the entire process for launching your own virtual summit in just 90 days. With video lectures, tech tutorials, templates, guides and a 90-day launch plan showing you exactly what to do every day, you'll be able to host your own successful virtual summit in mere months. Click here to learn more.
What tips have you found valuable when launching a virtual summit? Share with me in the comments below!
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