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Online events offer a way to get what we just can’t have right now…

…in-person happy hours, team meetings, retreats, conferences, and even coffee dates.

Luckily, we have the technology to recreate these experiences online, but as anyone who stopped through a never-ending online meeting knows there’s more to it than firing up a digital conference room,

It is possible to engineer meaningful and valuable events online but you have to have a plan and a strategy.

Whether you’re looking to recreate an in-person conference experience in a digital environment or get creative with ways to bring people together for the first time, this article will guide you through creating the purpose, structure, schedule, content, schedule, communication, and technology setup that will work best for your event. …

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Event organizers, business owners, and teachers are now faced with bringing in-person events online.

And, thankfully, plenty of people are looking for ways to step up and be of service to people who are panicked, anxious, or looking for help through virtual conferences, meetups, and mastermind sessions.

Bringing people together for meaningful, thoughtful, and fun online experiences is an opportunity to lead and a responsibility to serve.

After all, this is why we do what we do.

At What Works, we’ve hosted 11 virtual conferences over the last 3 years. We’ve also run countless virtual mastermind sessions, at least 8 different virtual retreats, and regular member meet-ups.

We’ve learned a lot about hosting events online. …

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The Nitty-Gritty:

  • How Tyme founder Jacynda Smith manages 100–200 individual consultations with new customers each week
  • Why these personalized consultations help Tyme delight 90% of frustrated customers
  • How virtual styling sessions create a feedback loop that helps Tyme get better & better
  • What Tyme is doing to leverage the success they’ve had with personalized virtual styling sessions

“Do things that don’t scale.”

That’s the advice that Paul Graham, co-founder at startup accelerator Y Combinator, commonly gives to founders.

“Do things that don’t scale” just happens to sound like the opposite of what many digital small business owners fret about when they exclaim, “but that doesn’t scale!”

Here’s the thing: if we spend all our time worrying about what does and doesn’t scale, we don’t take the very necessary steps to get to the place where scaling is even an option. …

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The Nitty-Gritty:

  • Why Obedient Agency co-founder Allie LeFevere believes so strongly in the power of humor to build a brand and market a product
  • How the agency incorporates humor into every touchpoint of their client experiences
  • The brainstorming techniques they use to find surprising & delightful marketing ideas
  • Why humor has even made its way into their hiring process

The first time I heard the phrase, “Surprise & delight…”

…I was being trained on Starbucks & Seattle’s Best Coffee company culture.

Our trainer — who was excellent — told us that we were empowered to look for little ways to surprise and delight our guests. Whether that was delivered a freshly brewed cup of coffee to the table they were sitting at or simply taking the time to learn our regulars’ names, the expectation was set that we would go above & beyond. …

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The Nitty-Gritty:

  • How Project Army founder Viktor Nagornyy discovered his opportunity in the website support & hosting market
  • The reason he decided to do the opposite of industry standards when it comes to key customer policies
  • How he landed on competitive pricing without having to slash expenses or sacrifice customer experience
  • Why prioritizing exceptional customer experiences has led to significant business growth

I’ve been building websites with Wordpress for almost 11 years now.

In the beginning, I used the cheap web hosts you’re probably already familiar with — I won’t name names, though.

I relied on the support those web hosts offered to teach me just about everything I know about name servers, MX records, cPanel, and common errors you get when screwing around in the backend of Wordpress. …

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The Nitty-Gritty:

  • What business therapist & mindset coach Nicole Lewis-Keeber does to help her clients identify boundary issues in their businesses
  • Why clear communication is key to have a great relationship with your business and your customers
  • How to renegotiate a relationship that’s run afoul of your personal boundaries
  • What habits and routines you can develop to ensure you’re upholding your own boundaries on a regular basis

Underpromise and overdeliver.

It’s a sound strategy for wowing your customers…

…but it can also be a recipe for burning out.

Unfortunately, plenty of well-meaning small business owners take the “underpromise & overdeliver” mantra to extremes — especially women. …

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The Nitty-Gritty:

  • How Ashley Gartland works with her business coaching clients to help them streamline their own work and reduce their sense of overwhelm
  • What goes in her welcome email to keep new clients from feeling overwhelmed as they’re getting started with coaching
  • How a customized Trello board helps her (and her clients) manage the engagement efficiently
  • Why she reduced her business model to just 2 packages and how that’s helping her create better client experiences

All told, I spent about 12 years of my life in retail and customer service.

I was a pharmacy technician dealing with sick, scared, and overwhelmed pharmacy customers at the ripe old age of 16.

I was a cashier at Kohl’s, often stepping in for the cashier supervisor and hawking credit card applications without understanding the damage those credit cards were going to do to the people applying. …

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The Nitty-Gritty:

  • How Potentia Therapy founder Rebecca Ching learned from key mistakes she made bringing her vision to life
  • What she does differently today when she’s finding the right people for her team
  • Why learning to lead has made her less lonely as a business owner
  • The process of self-reflection that allowed her to stop debating her own worthiness despite her setbacks

If there’s one constant in business and entrepreneurship, it’s that stuff happens.

Things go wrong.

We make bad choices.

The market shifts.

An employee leaves.

The big client gives notice that they’re terminating your contract.

We can’t always prepare for what’s going to go wrong — but we can work on becoming more resilient when bad things do inevitably happen. …

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The Nitty-Gritty:

  • How coach & author Cynthia Morris has coached herself through 20 years of growth as an entrepreneur
  • How she battles the “octopus of lots of different offers & ideas” that sneaks up on you when you’ve been in business that long
  • Why a trip to France helped open a new chapter in her business — and ultimately created its own challenges
  • How she wound up with the business model she has today

I am really willing to do that?

I pulled myself out of bed this morning at 5:30 and went downstairs, anxiously awaiting my first cup of coffee.

I put the water in the kettle, fired up the burner, and prepped my Aeropress. …

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The Nitty-Gritty:

  • How coach and business strategist Jo Casey manages her anxiety as an entrepreneur
  • The situation that revealed just how big an impact anxiety had on how she ran her business
  • How setting clearer boundaries and doubling her rates helped to get back on track
  • Why she’s simplified her business as a way of managing her anxiety
  • The positive results she’s seen by making her anxiety conscious and working to manage it productively

Wait, my anxiety isn’t normal?

We were driving along Interstate 90 somewhere between Chicago and Minneapolis on the hottest day of the summer.

Sean asked me, “Can you remember a time when you didn’t feel anxious?” …


Tara McMullin

Founder & Executive Producer of What Works and The What Works Network — a small business podcast & community. Formerly Tara Gentile.

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