Build on them with low-tech and high-tech tools.
In person, online, or hybrid, each and every event relies on the relationships between participants for that event to be successful. You experience it when you are attending, not running, events. If you know your neighbor’s name before sitting next to them at the keynote breakfast you’ll be more likely to pay attention to the keynote—you’ll want to compare notes with your new friend. Laugh together with a small group of strangers as you uncover your common interests and you’ll be more likely to be forthright, maybe even vulnerable, in a later work session.
The only distinction with hybrid events—and don’t get us wrong, it’s a big distinction—is that your audience will be both in person at the event and attending virtually. How do you connect such a spread-out group?
To answer that, we asked the brilliant event profs in the UNTETHERED Community and compiled their responses into the Content Journeys chapter of the Big Ideas Book. It includes a whole bunch of tactics you can use to build relationships during a hybrid event. Here’s a snapshot of how to make your event participants feel comfortable with their newly acquainted peers.
Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Take a cue from social media and highlight what attendees have in common before and during the event. One reason so many of us keep returning to social media sites is because we like to know about each other. What makes us tick. What unites us. During warmups, ask people to share details about their favorite hobbies and pastimes, as they would so easily online. When other attendees getting to know their fellows, even in this small way, it can help build relationships. Ask them to share their social media handles so people can keep connecting after the warmups.
Break the ice.
You won’t fall through.
A fun, yet powerful, exercise is to gather a group of four or five people who don’t know each other. Ask them to find four or five things they all have in common. These could be anything: favorite foods, sports teams, colleges, pets, vacation spots, TV shows, actors, podcasts, music, musicians. The list goes on. Sharing these little favorites can help people to feel more comfortable with each other—and get them in the frame of mind to contribute more during the work sessions.
Harness the power of AI.
We met through HAL.
Artificial intelligence tools can help match people with similar preferences and interests. Let’s say your AI tracks attendees’ choices at the event—where they go, what they do, what sessions they attend, what they click on, what they write. The tool can analyze that data and then introduce that person to, say, ten other like-minded individuals.
Enjoy the hunt.
The scavenger hunt, that is!
Warm up attendees before the event by sending them activity kits full of fun things to do, like scavenger hunts, on different days of the event. Encourage them to post their activities for event points and a chance to win prizes. The prizes can be photogenic doodads, like cute pet bling, that inspire people to share more pictures, comments, and likes.
Remember, it’s one thing to get to know people in person. It’s another to do so virtually. It’s quite another to have to do so in both spaces, perhaps simultaneously. Some people thrive in person, some moreso virtually. Both groups may be in a strange limbo during a hybrid event. Fortunately, with a hybrid event, you have at your disposal the old tricks of in-person-event networking, bolstered and made new by the tech of virtual events. There are more mind-blown moments and tactics to test in our Content Journey chapter, available to download now.