The opportunities for networking and growing your law firm’s brand have been few and far between during this COVID-19 times, between lockdowns and a general hesitation about having large numbers of people together in one place.
But if your firm is like most, you can’t afford to stop networking entirely. That’s where hosting a virtual event comes in. Just like so many other office functions that are running via virtual communications, so too can your networking and branding events.
Here are some tips for hosting a virtual event.
Have something compelling to say
This is true anytime, but the theme of your event should be tailored to the unique circumstances we’re all living through. You might want to talk about legal issues that have come up specific to COVID-19—let’s say a webinar on employer liability issues if a staff member contracts the coronavirus.
This is also a time when smart firms in all fields are doing some long-term thinking. Is there a way you could provide education on a topic that you’ve always wanted to talk about more with clients, but found it difficult to get them focused? In these slower times, they might be able to give you the time now.
There’s also the simple idea of just bringing in other law firms from different practice areas to network online. It’s an event that might have been held at a local restaurant in normal times, but is now forced into the virtual world.
Give thought to timing
You’ll need to be conscious of how long you let your event go. A general networking event might last a few hours when everybody’s in person, but that can seem like a long time to just be in front of a computer talking to a screen full of people. An hour is probably a nice sweet spot for timing, unless the nature of your event absolutely requires it to be longer.
Then there’s start time. To continue with our networking event example, these might start at 5 p.m. when they’re in-person. Now they probably need to be in the middle of the afternoon. Your attendees are working at home and may have children they need to keep an eye on. An event right in the lunch hour won’t be as convenient for people working from home as it would be when everyone is in the office.
Plan for hangups
There are standard problems that arise with any virtual platform. Not everybody knows how to manage both their audio and video. If you have a networking event, you need people to have both working in unison. Conversely, if you’re doing a live webinar or presentation, the last thing you need is for everybody to hear when someone’s spouse enters the room. Make sure you’ve mastered basics like “mute all” and allow time to let everybody get their mic and camera in working order.
Promote, promote, promote!
You’ve got to pound the virtual pavement to get the word out regarding your event. Use your law firm’s blog—not just to write an announcement of the event, but to write on topics pertaining to what your event will be about and continually refer back to the event.
If you have a podcast, promote the event there. You might also want to consider paid advertising on a venue like LinkedIn, where you can target your ad spend.
Virtual events are a great opportunity right now and the firms that get them right during these times will be well-positioned to keep using them as a marketing tool moving forward.