Updated: Jun 7, 2020
The new way of doing business is going digital. From being digital in marketing to being digital in operations, everywhere it is very crucial to know how to use the available technology.
There are various video conferencing / virtual meeting / online video call tools available online. To name a few Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet / Google Hangout, Webex, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Youtube Live, WebinarJam, and so on.
The most popular among them is Zoom. Recently it had a backlash regarding its security. But they have bounced back really strong with a quick update on their encryption and lot many improved functionalities.
This article is for anyone who is willing and open to available technology. You will definitely need some basic knowledge of operating Zoom.
As the President of BNI Alchemist which is the World's Largest BNI Chapter, it is always a challenge to keep your chapter continuously engaged. When we were thrown a challenge of being completely online in conducting our BNI meetings due to the current pandemic, we initially got disheartened. After doing the mock meeting and hearing the forecast from people around about the situation getting worsened we realized that we need to step out (virtually) and give a fight back.
We had the entire calendar of 6 months as per physical meetings planned which we had to replan as per the digital scenario. A thorough brainstorming among our leadership team gave birth to this amazing idea of the Alchemist Online Expo. We have already done 2 editions of the same in April 2020 and May 2020. We had 360+ visitors for 20 stalls combined for both the editions.
The Alchemist Online Expo
Step 1: Choose the exhibitors
Invite Exhibitors to exhibit for the digital exhibition
Limit the number to 10 or a maximum of 15 in one edition. We did 2 editions with 10 in each. We will talk about this limit in the following content.
Design a creative with Stall numbers and exhibitors
Step 2: Schedule meeting & prepare Registration form using Zoom
Schedule your meeting in advance.
Ensure to keep Registration Required.
Keep a meeting password, and generate the meeting ID automatically.
Ensure to keep the Participants Mute on Entry.
Enable Waiting Room.
Pre-assign Breakout Rooms
You can make 10 to 15 breakout rooms as per your requirement. This can be done even after you have started the meeting.
In the Online Expo 1.0, we did the pre-assigned way. We had the rooms renamed. In the second edition, we did the re-creation during the meeting. More details on this will be covered in the latter part.
Modify your registration form to add Branding and Custom questions.
You can add custom questions as per your requirement.
Adding questions like who invited you will help to track the Giver of the chapter and recognize them later during the meeting or even in the chapter meeting.
This will also help to trace and connect with someone who visited and could probably be a good prospect to our members.
Make your registration form speak about the organizers and exhibitors. We could not utilize this feature in our initial 2 editions, but we will surely be encashing on the same in the next editions.
Step 3: Promote it to get Visitors
As Leadership Team (or organizers of the exhibition) it is a must for us to promote our event to get maximum footfalls in order to generate business for our exhibitors. We did it in the following ways involving the exhibitors' network and contact sphere:
Invited all our chapter members
Invited the members of Gold Club and LTRT from Surat region
Invited via PAN India WhatsApp Groups of various business categories
Invited via Facebook Groups of BNI
Broadcast to the BNI members of various regions
Posts/video sharing via various social media platforms including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp Status, LinkedIn, and so on.
Cross-sharing of the clients of the exhibitors is one of the key tools for the success of any exhibition. Encash it! Best way to share contact spheres of our chapter members.
Step 4: Mock drill/Rehearsal with exhibitors and moderators.
Get all your exhibitors and moderators ready well in advance and do a mock drill for sure.
Tell them to prepare for an exhibition type of communication. This is not a space for your feature presentation. Do not prepare a 20 slide ppt for showing your products or services and explaining the visitors.
Here visitors are going to come in a random sequence of their choice just like in a regular exhibition. So on your physical stall, you can attend a limited number of visitors at a time and if some new visitor comes in then he either waits or leaves to visit the next stall.
The exhibitors should have a very crisp communication of their products and should try to push the visitor for a Call to Action (for eg: asking them to submit their contact details or visit your website or getting connected on WhatsApp you)
Ideally, you should use sales automation to put an SMS and email in the prospect lead as soon as you get the contact details. A support person from your team can be there to note down the leads getting generated.
Step 5: Run the Meeting with full enthusiasm
It is very crucial to leave a positive impression with the beginning itself.
Ensure to begin the meeting on time.
Get your exhibitors and their support team members online before 30 minutes.
Make the exhibitors and their team co-hosts. So that they can control mute/unmute in their breakout rooms.
Share the screen in the main session with a creative speaking about what is going to happen in the exhibition.
You can do an inauguration ceremony by inviting a special guest like our honorable executive directors or equivalent personality who can add more value to your event.
Explain how it will work to the visitors before you break them out in various rooms.
Have 2 to 3 moderators to run the show.
The 1st allocation of visitors can be done by dividing them automatically and later on manual transition will be done once they come out in the main session from 1st stall of their visit.
The Role of Moderators
We need a team of members whose wavelength matches with each other. They should be technically quick in using the Zoom functionalities.
Zoom allows only the HOST to control the Breakout rooms. The Co-Hosts cannot control the Breakout rooms.
This is one of the biggest challenges in executing online exhibitions using Zoom. Bring to our notice if you have found an alternative to this.
Why do we need 2 to 3 moderators then?
We need to have a quicker transition of visitors from one room to another.
The transition is from Room to Room. The visitors come out of the room and appear in the Main session, but their name in the Breakout room dashboard appears as Not Joined in their last visited room only.
Read the above line repeatedly because this is the most crucial part and the role of moderators becomes very important here.
The rule for any visitor to explore the online exhibition conducted using breakout rooms of Zoom is as below:
The 1st visit to the stall will be done by automatic assignment of all the participants in the main session to the breakout rooms. CAUTION: On doing this, it will divide the exhibitors and their team also randomly in the breakout rooms. So you need to ensure to shift them to the right room before you OPEN ROOMS.
To make it easy, ask your exhibitors and their team to have "Stall no." mentioned at the beginning of their name. ANALOGY: Exhibitor Tag used in the physical exhibition.
Ask the organizing committee to have "Organizers" or "Moderators" mentioned at the beginning of their name. ANALOGY: Organizer/Crew Tag used in the physical exhibition.
Whenever any visitor comes in the main session it can be either his 1st entry to the event itself or he must have exited from any of the breakout rooms. Ask him to mention in the Chatbox only where he has come from and where he wants to go. Eg: "From Stall no. G04 to Stall no. G07" OR simply "G04 to G07". For the first visit, they can write the "First visit to Stall No. G02"
The fellow moderators will help in speaking out the name of the visitor and transition request of the visitor so that the HOST can do the needful.
The above point is very crucial because as the host you can move the visitor from one breakout room to another by going on the dashboard of breakout rooms manager individually to space of previous breakout room.
Use the BROADCAST Message to all rooms feature to communicate with all the exhibitors and visitors regarding common announcements. ANALOGY: Loudspeaker announcements being done in a physical exhibition.
You can ask your LVH team to visit each of the Breakout rooms and observe if everything is going smoothly for the fellow exhibitors. Solve queries of exhibitor or visitor if any.
Also, ask your exhibitors and your LVH team to click screenshots of the individual breakout rooms so that you can use them to make a nice presentation or share it via a video to celebrate the successful organization of the Online Expo.
A glimpse of Alchemist Online Expo
Do not restrict to invite BNI members only. Invite your clients or even purchase managers of corporates and similar people who can be prospective clients for your chapter members.
You can even invite visitors who wrote "May Be" during Visitor Orientation in your previous chapter meetings to show them how advanced BNI is in generating business opportunities.
We did generate 30+ referrals for our chapter exhibitors. One of the members did a business of Rs. 2.2 lakh from the Online Expo 1.0
This is very crucial setting to be ensured.
"Allow participants to return to the main session at any time."
Compiled by: Palak Madhwani
Founder - WooHoo Screens | Magnadism Solutions Pvt Ltd
President of World's Largest Chapter - BNI Alchemist
Connect with me using my digital visiting card:
Share your feedback and comments with us so that we can all bring more innovation and generate RRO (Referral Received Outside) for our chapters.