Lets say you visit an historic battleship, and you sign up for a tour. A tour guide is there to show you around the ship.

If the guide starts going on and on about how long they’ve been giving tours and how much they like the ship and why they like the organization that runs it, you’re going to get a bit annoyed, right?

Sure, you’re happy to hear them tell you about the ship. Maybe even their personal stories if they have experience in this ship or one like it. But it’s about the ship, not about the guide.

It’s the same way in a networking event.

You came to make connections and find opportunities. You want to meet the other participants.

The host, especially in a virtual networking event, is important because they provide the structure for the event, but their job is to set it up, brief you, and get out of the way.

A Good Networking Event Host Gets Outta the Way!

In a recent article, I shared the “fifteen minute guarantee” for JV Connect: that you will be in breakouts, making connections no more than 15 minutes from the start of the event.

One common mistake that hosts make is thinking that they are the attraction rather than the guide.

If you are attending JV Connect, it is not because you love me. Maybe you do love me, in which case you may listen to my podcast where you learn great networking tips, or even my daily Morning Motivation.

But even if you listen to my podcasts every day and follow every piece of content, you still aren’t at JV Connect to see me.

You already know me. You are at JV Connect so I can help you meet everyone else!

And every minute I spend talking, whether it’s introductions or instructions or anything else, no matter how valuable it is, is a minute you are not making the connections you came to make.

Some of those things I share will be pretty important. Reminders of how to efficiently introduce yourself, or program notes on what’s coming next, all that is necessary. That’s why we don’t jump right into breakouts at minute one, but they are necessary to facilitate what you’re there for which is the connections.

Thus, my job is to say as little as possible to get you to the business of the event.

Blah blah blah

An overly verbose host is not just about the host pontificating.

The host may feel they are sharing valuable information, but simply not recognizing the opportunity cost of the time they are consuming.

At one day-long virtual event I attended, we did not get to actual networking until over an hour into the event.

The first shared some inspiration, then talked up the value of networking and partnerships, then introduced all the co-hosts and producers and the team. Then he ran through the entire schedule, and all kinds of other material before we finally got to the action.

It wasn’t bad information he was sharing, but for experienced networkers we didn’t need it.

Then, throughout the day, he would break in with extended blocks of talking, expounding and pontificating on one topic or another. He was very experienced, and his content was valuable, but it was not what we came for.

At live business after hours events, I’ve seen hosts waste up to 1/4 of the event with announcements and various non-networking activity.

It is common and good to have a period of announcements and maybe a raffle. You need to appreciate the hosts and give them exposure to thank them for their hospitality. Raffles provide value to the winners and the donors. All good stuff.

But it must be under 15 minutes. These events are only 90 to 120 minutes. If it goes to half an hour or longer, it’s too much, and it breaks the flow.

I’ve seen hosts spend 5 minute or more just thanking people and enjoying the sound of their own voices.

Announcing the next event is good, but if you’re announcing the whole calendar, it’s just too much. Not only does it take too long, but people can’t parse it. They aren’t in a place to take notes and it all runs together. Printing out a sheet with upcoming events and announcements is much more effective.

And remember that if you provide a valuable event, people will seek out the next one.

What we’re doing at JV Connect

As we structure JV Connect, our goal is to have just the right amount of networking, and the right amount of, shall we say, stage time.

Much as I value the time in breakouts meeting people, you simply cannot do that continually for hours. It would be overwhelming.

Furthermore, there is content outside of breakouts that we would like to share with you for various reasons.

When you are in a great breakout room, you will find a number of people that you would like to follow up with. On a Zoom event, that consummation occurs in the chat, and can be difficult in the breakout room itself as you keep discovering new people to connect with.

The time between the breakouts is a great time to sort your notes, fire off all those private chat messages, book times on calendars, and do whatever else you need to do to keep up with the opportunities you are encountering.

What you’ll hear outside the breakouts…

Between breakouts there will be a few different program items, none longer than 5 minutes.

We’ll have various experts sharing quick insights around the topic of the next breakout. For example, before you go into a breakout to talk about summit stages, we’ll have Steve Eriksen, the founder of Event Raptor, talking a bit about summits.

We also have some great sponsors who will be sharing something valuable with you. They only get 3 minutes to share, and they were selected because, in addition to supporting the event, they have offers that I believe you’ll benefit from.

The point is to keep the momentum going. No 45 minute presentations. No long pitches. Everything in this event is about efficiently presenting you the opportunity to connect with as many potential collaboration partners as possible to allow to identify the right fit partners at the event.


If you still need to register for JV Connect, you can do it here.

Keep up to date by joining the JV Connect Facebook group.

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