Live Event Management

There’s something exhilarating about bringing people together to enjoy an experience you built. Anyone can bring a few friends together. Creating an environment for the public to connect requires more attention.

Controlling the chaos of an event is easier with solid planning beforehand. First-time events are always the hardest, but every event has unknowns. The more thought put in before people arrive, the smoother your attendees’ experience will be.

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I’ve developed and managed countless events throughout North America. More tips and tactics, as well as, insight from my own experience is layered into the Event Management section of YDNTB.

Basic details include the venue, time, and guest list. Who’s the audience? Based on those you want to attend, how can the venue support the right vibe and is it accessible? How will transportation and parking work? Looking at community calendars, will your event compete with other related events?

With basic event details in place, how can you promote this event so people you want to attend notice it? Will a website be needed or is social media enough? Is it free to attend or will there be a cost? If it’s free, how will you cover costs? Speaking of costs, how could sponsorships work? What’s the plan for food and drinks? Is there a registration process? If not, will you still be able to gather attendee data? Is security staff needed?

Think about your own goals for the event and how you want attendees to feel when they leave. Beyond the basics, what’s the agenda look like? Will there be any sort of programming? What about special speakers? As the host, if you plan to say a few words, what are the key points you want to make? Are activities planned or is casual conversation enough to keep everyone engaged? Will you be able to capture enough media while still managing the event? If not, does it make sense to hire someone to capture photos and video to use later? Can you rally attendees by connecting them on social media before, during, and after the event? Could showcasing live social media activity boost awareness for those unable to attend? Where’s a good place to send everyone interested in the after-party?

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Stay tuned! Next week we’ll shift focus to online events.

One common mistake is assuming an event is over when the last guest has left. Detailed planning leads to smooth events. Concerted efforts to commemorate events lead to future opportunities. Finish strong with thank-you notes, tagged photos, video highlights, recap articles, and follow-up conversations.

Event management is challenging and stressful, but super energizing. The more you bring people together, the more effective you’ll become. As the basics become second nature, it’s easier to get more creative. This leads to larger crowds, more memorable experiences, and longer-lasting engagement. Like everything, the more you practice, the better you get.

#GiveFirst

The energy of accelerating others is unmatched.

When talking with others, forget potential transactions. Instead start by focusing on how you can help. People gravitate toward those who choose genuine selflessness over their own interests.

Showing you care can be as easy as a quick thought to help someone else take their next step. Perhaps there’s a helpful introduction you can make? It can even be as simple as showing you care enough to listen.

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Early in my career I was told that everything felt like a one-way street with me. From then on, I made an effort to listen first and talk less. This is difficult when all you want to do is invite people to your next event or sell whatever it may be. Be willing to show up, stand out, and follow up to seal the deal, but pave two-way streets that allow your relationships to flourish by pulling as much as you push.

However you choose to contribute, the trick is not expecting anything in return. This benevolent attitude has been encapsulated in the hashtag #GiveFirst. Here is a Techstars podcast that explores this mindset. Brad Feld also wrote this book to highlight the #GiveFirst philosophy.

Maintaining a #GiveFirst mentality will spawn meaningful discussions faster and more often. This happens because without ulterior motives, you’re able to explore anything without remorse. Over time, this allows more meaningful connections to evolve, versus contacts without context. When you play the long game of investing in the success of others, the real fun begins.

Concerned you’ll never achieve your goals if you’re always trying to help others? Don’t be. If you relentlessly #GiveFirst, you will earn the attention of people eager to return the favor. You’ll also get asked about your own work more often. That’s when you spark intrigue by saying it’s a secret, before shifting the discussion back to them. They’ll laugh, love it, and come back for more.

Bookmarks

Anticipation, fear, and excitement. These are healthy sensations that emerge as we create bookmarks in life by experiencing new things.

It’s easy to forgot for those who often look forward, but we are blessed by many renewing moments throughout life. The start of a new day, first dates, holidays, weddings, vacations, the arrival of a child, birthdays, the first day of school, a new job, the launch of your own company, and perhaps when you fully accept that we may only have one life to live.

This reflection on fresh beginnings and how we’re invited to create bookmarks in life spawned as I embark on my expanded role with Techstars. As a tech founder and entrepreneurial ecosystem builder, Techstars is an iconic organization I’ve always admired. They support entrepreneurs with education, resources, and mentoring that is exponentially compounded by a global network. What started as exploratory ecosystem building, quickly transcended into a more involved role with the Techstars Iowa Accelerator.

I’m grateful for this opportunity to be the entrepreneur in residence focused on ecosystem development. As you hear me often say, the energy of accelerating others is unmatched. Supporting more inspired founders while connecting a community of remarkable mentors is such a gift and yet another bookmark I’ll always appreciate.

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Visualizing your career portfolio as a dynamic pie chart is something I write about in YDNTB. Along with this healthy exercise to reflect on your own personal bandwidth, having this graphic on your phone adds a quick reference for introductory conversations as well. Here’s a peek at my current career portfolio.

As you marinate on your own state of now, be thankful for the bookmarks in life that you’ve established by exploring something new. Think about what you started and how’s it’s evolved. Remember everything can change so if it’s time to create a new bookmark in life, avoid the natural temptation to wait.

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Someday is dangerous. Today is all you have. Start.

Show Up

Surrounding yourself with fellow students, entrepreneurs, and intrapreneurs will keep you motivated. The goal is to find a balanced collection of community events. Commit to those who complement your life while seeking out new groups that make you nervous. This combination will connect you with people who can support, but also expand, your world.

Once you lock in on a few groups that can push you to be your best, show up. It sounds easy, but consistently showing up takes dedication. When we commit to showing up, we are being generous with our time, and generosity leads to trust. As trust surges, more meaningful interactions occur. This will increase the value you give and get from the community, which makes it easier to show up.

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Whether it’s a tribe you trust or a brand new experience, don’t waste your time by attending an event just to say you were there.

When you arrive, say hello to everyone you know. After catching up, shift the focus to meeting new people. For a jump-start, ask a friend to introduce you to someone you don’t know. If that’s not an option, go mix it up alone.

Be bold enough to enter existing conversations without an invitation. One way to do this in style is find a small group of people talking. Wait until you’re noticed, then casually say, “Hey, folks, whatcha chattin’ about?” Be respectful and prepare to expand on whatever they’re talking about. The group will soon want to know why you decided to join their conversation. It’s tempting to use this moment to talk about yourself.

Instead, surprise them by not trying to take over the conversation. Ask a question or share an intriguing thought that relates to the current discussion. The objective is to deflect the focus back toward the group. This deflection will weave you into the fabric of the discussion. You’ve now become a part of the group’s conversation. This will provide a chance to share your story with a more natural flow. Even as you explain your work, remind yourself that everyone loves talking about themselves. By letting them do so, you’ll be less as an intruder and more of interested addition to any discussion.

Perhaps you’re in a group and someone decides to join you? Be quick to expand the circle and compliment their initiative. Get curious and allow your inclusive vibe to create yet another new connection.

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Saying “yes” leads to more adventure, as the universe rewards our ambition.

Import Knowledge

The focus on a local business environment allows small businesses, startup communities and entrepreneurial ecosystems to support the people they are closest to. This concentration allows available resources to be optimized, but overextending “local first” can devolve into close mindedness and groupthink if it is not accompanied by imported knowledge, global connectivity and inclusive collaboration.

Thanks to the efficiency of our connected era, increased proficiency is just a click away. Regularly inviting outside perspectives into local conversation normalizes fresh feedback and bolsters intellectual awareness. The sense of abundance paired with this shared experience adds confidence within a community. This emerging confidence can illuminate purpose and attract more of what an ecosystem needs, by leaning into what it already has. Over time, this adds cultural elasticity and opens fresh conduits for collaboration.

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Be quick to invite outsiders into the insider’s conversation.

As a local entrepreneurial ecosystem invites more outside perspectives, it also manifests itself to visitors from all over the world. This can grow the community, diversify the ecosystem, and boost the local economy.

These intellectual branches and societal bridges also give more people a chance to export knowledge as they interact beyond the local environment. This extension broadens our range of understanding and overall potential.

Can we stay committed to those we love and take pride in the place we live, while also reducing the limitations of our own location? I believe the answer is almost always yes. With a positive-sum approach to importing and exporting knowledge, we can lean on each other to all accomplish more with less.