A great way to reach out to your network and provide useful information to them is through the use of a seminar. Especially in the B2B arena, seminars allow you to divulge industry relevant information as a learning tool for others while also building upon business relationships and developing new contacts. Although there are many companies and services that offer programs to easily make a seminar, it is relatively simple to produce your own with significantly less financial burden. This article will provide tips in how to create your own webinar on a budget:
- Benefit Analysis: Before you start compiling information for a seminar or researching the different options available to produce your seminar for free, it is important to first determine if you would truly benefit from providing a seminar. There is no doubt that a seminar will enhance your networking but it is important to weigh the opportunity costs related to the process of creating your own seminar. Do you have the time in your schedule to develop a worthwhile seminar or is there even a need for more contacts with your current client load? Creating more business contacts should always be a continual thing but it might not be as beneficial doing a seminar now rather than later.
- Determine Topic: So you have determined a need for producing your own seminar, now you have to figure out what you want to discuss during the seminar. Figure out what information will be relevant to your target audience or if there is something unique that you or your company specializes in that would be a valuable learning tool to potential future contacts. Once you decide what to discuss, it is important to thoroughly research the topic so you are well-versed and able to answer any questions that participants of the seminar might have. Also, providing visuals is key to any presentation so accumulate graphics or pictures to illustrate the topic at hand.
- Formatting the Seminar: Seminars come in a variety of speaking formats so after you decide on the topic you wish to present, it is imperative you decide how you want to format the actual presentation itself. Options include having just one speaker who is well-versed on the topic present and answer questions, interviewing throughout the seminar where someone asks another a predetermined set of questions, a panel discussion that involves multiple experts on the topic to gain various viewpoints, or an interactive format where audience members can freely participate throughout the entire seminar. The more people you have involved in the actual format the more complicated the seminar becomes and requires more planning and even possibly more cost. Yet, having multiple voices throughout the seminar provides for a more appealing format to the audience and is likely to draw more viewers in.
- Decide on a Platform: Like I mentioned before, there are services that offer seminar production for a fee but it is always beneficial to find ways to surpass any additional costs. Search for free seminar solutions like Anymeeting, where you might have to subject your participants to ads or be limited to the number of attendees, but could suffice your ultimate purpose. Look at the benefits and costs for each alternative to determine which service is best for you.
- Marketing: Once you know the information to be presented and have ironed out all the details surrounding the seminar, it is critical you adequately market the event to your target audience. How are you supposed to gain attendees if they aren’t aware that the event is even occurring? Whether it is setting up a landing page on your website and/or promoting across different social media outlets, make sure you take time to reach out to those you want to attend the seminar and that they are informed of the event with enough time to respond and plan accordingly.
- Registration Setup: Along with the marketing, you need to have a way for attendees to register for the event easily. Provide a link with your marketing campaign for the event to a page where they can sign up quickly and pain-free. Make sure to have registrants include their email and contact information on the form so you can use it for follow-up contact after the event. After all, the main perk to producing the seminar is to garner networking contacts so collect the information while you can!
- Practice: So your seminar is coming up right around the corner and you want to guarantee everything runs smoothly. The best way to ensure a well-ran seminar is to practice at least once, if not more, beforehand. Create an agenda for the presenters to follow during the seminar and run through the format to make sure everything flows well and the topic is covered correctly. While rehearsing the seminar, check that all the equipment is operating efficiently and that your visuals are showing up clearly to the audience.
- Follow Up: Now that all the preparation is over and the seminar went off without a hitch, it is time for the most critical aspect of networking via a seminar; the follow-up. All of that contact information you collected during the registration process and the record of actual attendees provide a pool of future contacts for your business. Reach out to them and thank them for participating in your seminar and ask for their feedback. Let them know that their opinion is valuable to you and if the contact seems worthwhile pursuing, ask for a time to meet in the future to discuss the possibility of doing business in the future.
For more information on producing seminars or even attending seminars yourself to reach out to like-minded business professionals, check out organizations like the National Association of Distinguished Professionals. NADP provides resources for business and management professionals by offering their own seminars but also advice on how to build your professional network. Creating your own seminar may seem like a daunting task but the benefits it has for networking usually outweigh the negatives and can provide a boost to you and/or your business’ professional life.
Peters, Chris, and Kami Griffiths. “10 Steps for Planning a Successful Webinar.” Techsoup.org. Tech Soup Global, 31 Jan. 2012. Web. 20 Aug. 2013.
Treanor, Tom. “How to Do a Webinar Using Free or Inexpensive Tools.” Right Mix Marketing, Inc. N.p., 19 Mar. 2012. Web. 20 Aug. 2013.