What comes to mind when you hear the term “event community?” A bunch of people who live in the same place and have the same interests? A dated networking strategy?
Liberal use of the word “community” has often left it sitting in that buzzword bucket (alongside “leverage” and “synergy”), but the reality is event communities are often vibrant, valuable places to be –– provided event organizers understand the trends impacting these communities today.
Read on to learn more about three event community misconceptions –– and how you can seek to nurture and strengthen your own event communities in 2022.
Misconception #1: Communities are homogenous
Members of your event community have their own individual identities and motivations. Sure, there’s a common thread, but a blanket approach just won’t cut it.
Rather than lamenting the lack of a one-size-fits-all solution to community building, Black In Events Founder Keneisha Williams recommends welcoming and celebrating each unique voice. She hints at the main driver of success in the Black in Events community: empathy.
“We all came together for a specific reason,” Williams says. “But everybody's so different within their own identities, within their own stories, so it's at a point now where we're trying to understand people individually.”
To keep up with changing dynamics, Williams reinforces the need to always put people first by recognizing and respecting individual identities –– and staying up to speed on what members of the community want and need.
“I always start with people first by figuring out how we can attend to them and make them feel represented properly,” Williams says.
But what does this look like in action? One tactical solution is to reach out to your community via surveys to find out what’s important to them. Consider asking community members:
- What are your goals?
- What challenges do you face?
- What do you want to hear more about?
- What do you want to discuss?
- What interactions and connections are you seeking?
After learning how community members want to engage –– and be engaged –– you can build out experiences that connect to their wants and needs.
Misconception #2: Event communities are bound to one geographic area
Some community members need to conveniently connect across geographical boundaries. As a result, event professionals are up against an increasingly virtual world. It’s both a blessing and a curse as today’s global communities are often well-connected but distributed across time zones.
Technology has, in many ways, helped people around the world discover, access, and strengthen communities. And while the benefits of connecting are clear, having community members spanning so many time zones can result in communication gaps and an overall decrease in engagement. Not ideal, right?
But that’s the beauty of impactful events — they’re community builders — even when those community members are spread around the world.
Hosting multiple events solves time zone dilemmas
The United Nations (UN) Global Compact 20th Anniversary Leaders Summit is a prime example of how hosting multiple events can accommodate attendees across different time zones while keeping engagement strong.
"We designed a 26-hour 'Chasing the Sun' conference," said Courtney McNeese, head of the strategic events team for the UN Global Compact. "The conference had 26 plenaries, 50 breakout sessions with over 500 speakers.”
The in-person event, held in New York City, usually draws 2,000 attendees, but a shift to virtual in 2020 resulted in 15,538 attendees. The result? Expanded reach, which allowed the UN to engage thousands of additional people in relevant conversations.
Providing recorded event content ups the convenience factor
Not only can virtual event community members engage with one another both synchronously and asynchronously, with a little planning on the part of the event organizer, they can also access event content when it’s convenient for them.
Imagine having a community of subject matter experts at your fingertips 24/7. That’s what Hopin customers are able to provide their event attendees. Community members can watch missed sessions and rewatch previously viewed sessions at their leisure. Meanwhile, organizers can select which sessions they want the community to access.
Miss something in a presentation? No problem — replay it. And if an attendee is still trying to make sense of a presented concept, they can hash it out with someone else in the event community.
Misconception #3: Event communities are obsolete
While there may be pandemic-related forces tugging at event communities, that doesn’t mean they’re a thing of the past. People are still hungry for connection –– perhaps more than ever. That means community leaders need to adapt and focus on fostering engagement to nurture those connections.
For the past two years, event organizers have been faced with a host of new challenges when it comes to establishing and building communities. Things like:
- Travel restrictions
- Strategy pivots
- Navigating health and safety protocols
- Shifting budgets
- Restrictions on in-person events
But in 2022, with the help of virtual event platforms, resourceful event professionals are finding ways to produce events that reunite their existing communities and welcome new members –– who previously might have had barriers to contend with ––into the fold.
To ensure the event communities of today continue to thrive, Williams suggests:
- “Dropping into” your community: Have one-on-one conversations with your members to better understand their worlds.
- Recognizing and rewarding engagement: Find ways to highlight and reward your event community’s top contributors.
“People love seeing themselves recognized,” she says. “Some people may already be well known in the event space. However, a lot of the professionals that we spotlight have never been featured on a list of top professionals in the event industry. So, it's inspiring, and that's the point.”
Sometimes you want to see your name in lights –– or just go where everybody knows your name. And it’s those emotional connections people tend to be seeking when they commit to a community. After all, our human desire to engage and connect will continue to push event communities well beyond just another buzzword.
Ready to start building an event community? Find out how Hopin can help. Contact our team of event experts today to learn more.