Events are having a moment — especially with our very own INBOUND conference right around the corner! And for those of you who organize and execute on events, you know exactly what planning a successful one entails. Each aspect is an important element in what you hope will turn out to be a well-oiled machine.
Various tips, tricks, hacks, and dare I say even shortcuts, are in constant demand from event planners, but sometimes it’s easy to overlook the secret weapons that you already have in your arsenal: your coworkers. Not only do they liven up your day with friendly chit-chat, they can also seriously up your event organizing game.
So if you’re an event organizer, take a 10 minute break from trying to multitask and juggle the 50 million little parts involved in event planning, and read on to learn how you can make better use of the awesome resources you have all around you. (Or at least the ones hovering by the coffee machine.)
When planning and organizing events, your coworkers are:
1) Content Kings (& Queens)
Your sales reps and managers are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to understanding your target market/audience. Use them. They’re in constant contact with the people for whom you’re designing your event, and thus can provide you with key insights upon which you can build your event. Ask them about the most common challenges your target market is facing, and what the trending topics of conversation are. This will help you put together the best content that will appeal to your attendees.
In fact, a recent survey by HubSpot and Eventbrite found that 79% of event attendees go to events to learn. Running an event that aims to provide educational value can be more successful than a straightforward and traditional sales event.
2) Speaker Specialists
Every event needs speakers, and whether these are externally or internally sourced, this is when your interpersonal skills are indispensable. However, rather than attempting to reinvent the wheel and build new relationships, remember that you have an extended network through your coworkers. Depending on the type of speakers desired, your colleagues can ease a little more of that event-organizing-induced pain. Here are some opportunities:
Account Management/Sales: Referrals and reviews are all exceptionally effective marketing techniques, and that extends to organizing event speakers, too. Ask your Sales/Account Management teams to suggest potential speakers for your event based on their relationships with your customers.
Services: Send out a “Call For Customer Speakers” email to your services team with a link to a Google Docs spreadsheet where they can drop in suggestions for suitable speakers, and the reason they feel they would be a good fit for the event. This will make it really easy for you to review and choose the best customer speakers.
Marketing: The addition of an industry influencer or thought leader to any event increases its value to many attendees. Not only does it add to the “cool factor” of your event, it also continues to position it in the realm of education, as opposed to being purely product and sales focused. Chances are there are people in your organization who already have relationships with these industry mini-celebrities, and who won’t mind reaching out to them on your behalf. The good folks in the marketing department tend to be an endless reserve of contacts, and are therefore a great place to start.
3) Attendance/Attendee Advocates
Even as a kid, the prospect of hosting an event and having no one turn up was a genuine fear. Seven years old and alone with a birthday cake — isn’t that a sad image? Unfortunately, for event organizers that fear is still alive. You can be an organizational whiz kid and yet if no one turns up for your event, all that hard work is pointless.
To help alleviate some of that fear, make use of your coworkers’ networks to promote event attendance. A super easy and quick way to do this (and minimize the amount of effort needed by your coworkers) is to send out a short and sweet email, which includes lazy tweets to announce your upcoming event.
How to Lazy Tweet
Click to Tweet is a free tool that allows you to create a tweet, share the associated link, and “Whoever clicks on the link will have the message automatically added to their Twitter status box.” Just …
Sign in with your Twitter Account.
Type the message you would like to be tweeted and click generate new link.
Copy the link and share!
Of course, you should also encourage coworkers to promote your event via other networks — like LinkedIn, Facebook (if applicable), and email.
During your event, your coworkers are:
4) Social Media Masters
Having real-time social updates is a sure-fire way to engage both your attendees, and those who couldn’t make it to the event. Creating your event’s hashtag should be your first step, but always try to make it as short as possible so that you free up as many of Twitter’s 140 characters as you can. Make sure that all attendees are aware of your event hashtag by placing it on all event collateral — slides, email, and social communication in particular. Including the Twitter handles of your event speakers is also a nice addition.
Having a coworker man the social media deck will free up some precious project management time for you, and allow attendees to feel like there is someone paying attention to their experience of the event, and answer any queries they may have. It also helps you make sure that any tweetable quotes or soundbites are captured and sent out into the twittersphere. Check out our blog post “Everything You Need To Know To Successfully Live-Tweet Your Event” to find out more on how to rock Twitter during your event — but having knowledgeable, responsible coworkers manning the social media station will be a huge stress relief for you.
5) Networking Ninjas
Networking is a key reason for attending events — in a recent HubSpot survey 76% of all respondents said that networking was their motivation for attending events. Obviously, this means it’s not a facet of event organization that you can ignore. In fact, it should be something that you embrace … and your coworkers can help you do that.
To facilitate networking as best you can during your events, have your coworkers attend the event with the aim of getting conversations going. This is particularly helpful since each will have their own superpower or specialty in particular areas of your product or service, which means networking conversations can align with that attendees really want to talk about.
Depending on the type of event and the audience present, different types of networking opportunities are more suitable than others. But, here are a few to consider — I’d recommend mixing up the staff at each event so it’s not always the same faces:
Pre-Event Breakfast: This is a great networking opportunity for events that are on the smaller end of the scale and have VIP guests attending. It’s a more intimate environment that can be hugely productive and beneficial for all involved. Having managerial level coworkers attend adds further value and credibility to the session.
Coffee Breaks: Coffee (or tea) breaks are inevitable during your event. They break up the day, allow your attendees to re-energize, and are also fantastic networking opportunities.
Post-Event Drinks: An old-school favorite. The majority of event attendees will enjoy the idea of a few social beverages after an event to network with each other, and anyone present from your company. Make sure that you have enough representatives from your company doing the rounds, chatting to the attendees, and generally making sure that everyone is having a good time. Having a few extra hands on deck is a great way to ensure that all attendees feel like they matter.
Post-event, your coworkers can be:
6) Devoted Distributors
It’s easy to think that once your last event attendee leaves the venue that your event is over, but of course that isn’t true. Sharing follow-up content based on what was included in the event is an integral part to event organization. SlideShare decks, videos, photos — any matter of content can be shared once the event is over via email with those who registered and attended. And with a quick click of a button, your colleagues become additional distribution channels and can amplify your reach online. Apps like GaggleAMP (which is a paid tool) are super useful here.
How to GaggleAmp
- Set up an account and ask your coworkers to join your “Gaggle.” They will be able to log in to the app and see which messages you would like them to share through which social networks. They will be able to choose what they want to share and where.
- Once you start publishing content via GaggleAMP, your Gaggle members will be able to further share your messages (and thus your follow-up content) with an easy click of a button.
If you’re a HubSpot customer, you already have access to this functionality within Social Inbox. All you have to do is connect your coworkers’ social accounts and you can schedule your post-event content to go out across all of their networks.
Having your coworkers help make your events even more awesome is always a good call — they are smart people with smart ideas and great resources. However, the best way to make sure that they do help you out without being unresponsive is to make tasks and requests as easy and clear as possible. Give them all of the relevant information clearly and succinctly, and provide them with any assets that will help them complete what you have asked of them.
What other tips do you have for leveraging your coworkers to help you with your events?