April 4, 2022

How to Host Successful Live & Virtual Events in 2022 with Robbie Samuels

This week on The Winning Zone, Hilmon Sorey is joined by Robbie Samuels, networking expert and author of ‘Croissants vs Bagels,’ to talk about how the world of networking has evolved since the start of the pandemic and what organizations can do to be intentional and engaging with their events, whether virtual or in-person.

The World of Networking During the Pandemic

Prior to the pandemic, Robbie had spent years working to be recognized as a networking expert. Finally, just when the pandemic began, Robbie was poised to be an overnight success, but because of the pandemic, the skills he was known for were no longer needed. Robbie had to quickly shift gears and figure out how to show up and add value in this new pandemic world. Continue listening at 00:40 to learn how Robbie stayed relevant and learned to thrive in his field during the pandemic.

In-Person vs Zoom Connections

Pre-pandemic, Robbie was helping organizations be more thoughtful and strategic about how they put together an event; how to nurture a connection from Year 1 attendee to Year 2 attendee so that by Year 2 they did not feel lost. However, when the pandemic hit, Robbie had to figure out how to translate that into the virtual world- how to use the host and make good execution of the technology while avoiding Zoom fatigue. Continue listening at 02:33 to learn more.

The Responsibility of the Organizer

Robbie explains that roughly 40% of the responsibility falls on the event organizer to really understand how to host the event well; how to ensure that people are going to have a certain experience. The other 60% falls on the event goer to be intentional about their experience, make a plan, and be open to the connections. Learn more about how the organizer can cultivate networking opportunities that really resonate with the event attendees at 06:28.

An Inability to Engage

At 10:36, Robbie admits that since the pandemic, we (people) are really out of practice at actually engaging with other people. There is a lot of intensity that goes along with having to be on all the time for these in-person events, and people have learned, as a result of the pandemic, that they have a limit to how much they can take. Another contributor that Robbie feels is part of this is that many people do not give a lot of time and effort to what it takes to prepare for a networking event, or we don’t put a lot of time towards being strategic about it, and this then hinders us in really being able to engage effectively with others. Continue listening to learn more.

Purpose First is for Everything

Robbie explains that purpose first is for everything- design, training, etc. Everyone must be aligned on the metrics of success for the event. The team must understand why certain things should be happening and what outcomes you are aiming for. People on the team need to understand how their actions will lead to business down the road, and having everyone aligned on the same page is what will motivate them to achieve success at an event. Robbie offers tons of resources on this in his book, ‘Croissants Vs Bagels.’ Learn more at 15:47.

Effective Zoom Hosting

At 20:28, Robbie explains that being an effective Zoom host is about understand the platform that use well enough that you are able to take a second to pause with your team and really think about what is the purpose, what is the experience or transformation you are trying to achieve, and what tools do you need to achieve that experience. People enjoy interaction and want to feel like they are part of an experience, so you cannot just leave those details to chance. Continue listening to learn more.

Best Practices

When designing your event, it is pertinent that you understand what you are trying to achieve and design with that in mind. There is a difference between having someone who manages things with you and just goes along with everything without giving any feedback or really getting involved and hiring a professional who can really help you dive into what you are trying to achieve and designing the best experience that caters to that. Learn more at 24:23.

Virtual Vs In-Person Events

Trying to do simultaneous hybrid events does not work. However, instead of trying to figure out when to do one type of event or the other, this should be an ongoing conversation about how to use both types of events throughout. There is much to be gained from both types of events- in-person events are typically more engaging, but virtual events can be attended by people from all over. Both types of event also have constraints, but when used together, they can really compliment each other. Learn more at 27:03.

Will the Metaverse Take Over?

Robbie feels that well-designed, engaging, in-person conferences will be sought out by people that have grown up digitally, but we do have to make a case for why it is worth getting together. Organizations must be open and willing to try new things to gain and retain that interest of the digital-age people. Continue listening at 30:46 to learn more about how Robbies feels organizations and in-person events can stay relevant in this digital world.

Key Snippets

00:40 The World of Networking During the Pandemic

02:33 In-Person vs Zoom Connections

06:28 The Responsibility of the Organizer

10:36 An Inability to Engage

15:47 Purpose First is for Everything

20:28 Effective Zoom Hosting

24:23 Best Practices

27:03 Virtual Vs In-Person Events

30:46 Will the Metaverse Take Over?

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