My Event Planning Career: Organizing Virtual Networking Events
Tamesha Antria is a graduate of QC Event School’s Event & Wedding Planning Course, a student of QC’s Destination Wedding Planning and Event Decor Courses, and a QC Student Ambassador. Her wedding and event planning business, Black Haven Events, offers clients everything from officiant services, wedding and event planning/coordination, and much more! To learn more about how Tamesha’s online training with QC has changed her life, watch her YouTube testimonial here.
I’m Tamesha Antria, professional planner and the proud owner of Black Haven Events. My business is an event and wedding planning company which aims to serve the minority community. As a team, we’re committed to representing the underrepresented! I’m also a QC School Ambassador looking to share my experiences in this new virtual world with you!
Since June 2020, I’ve been organizing virtual networking events for entrepreneurs. In the past, I’ve done in-person events such as:
- Cultural festivals
- Events for school-aged kids (educational activities)
Needless to say, virtual events were a new area of expertise for me! Nonetheless, my previous experience with timelines, vendors, and stress management made the transition manageable.
A Look into the Project
The purpose of the events I plan is to bring awareness to a growing group of leaders, committed to observing and taking new startup groups to the market. For example, the purpose of the organization, CREATE-X, is to instill entrepreneurial confidence. This is the perfect time to be affiliated with this program, as more businesses have started to open – even amidst COVID-19. The target audiences are:
- College-attending ages (18+)
- Women and men
- Those attending or affiliated with a company/founder of a company at the Georgia Institute of Technology
By hosting various virtual networking events, we hope to drive students into the program and enhance their company ideas!
Planning a Virtual Event
Virtual event planning can be tricky, but it’s also very rewarding. The key components are marketing and coordination.
I start by preparing the concept of the event itself. Then I create the marketing campaign, delegate duties, and develop a timeline for the event. This last step will ensure to include and and all participants and moderates. The most unique challenge I faced when coordinating these virtual events was keeping the attendees interested from beginning to end.
However, this was easily solved with the help a new platform that I’ve been using: Gatherly. The interface allows for virtual networking as if you were actually there in-person. I discuss the benefits of Gatherly more in this blog post on my website, as well as provide some useful tips on how to organize a virtual wedding/event!
We market our virtual events through email campaigns and social media. Communication and marketing are essential for a successful virtual event! Communicating every detail of the event is critical to get the most out of each visit. For every event we host, the goal is to drive students to apply for our entrepreneurial-based program. Our professional network consists of the school’s internal database, but we also invite external guests. The events are mentioned to anyone that can benefit from the program!
Virtual Event Planning vs. In-Person Event Planning
In my opinion, a great thing about virtual events is the limited amount of vendors you need to interact with. An in-person event would typically consist of some of the following:
- Venue coordinator(s)
- And much more
But when it comes to virtual event planning, the experience is much different. After assessing most of my events’ needs, I found that most only require interacting with a venue coordinator! The beauty of the new virtual world we live in is that vendors have pivoted services to cater to our virtual times. Companies can easily partner with delivery services for catering (using UberEats credits, for instance), as well as set up virtual photography/videography sessions for any virtual event.
This is perhaps the best part about virtual event planning! Collaborating with other artists and vendors who are also striving to survive COVID-19 is the most rewarding experience. I think of each project as one big family of creatives and professionals. How you think of your partnerships with vendors plays a big role in how successful your event (and event planning business) can be.
Seeing Everything Come Together
On the day of the event, I always expect for things to not go according to plan. I have estimated the timeline for the day of the event, and have learned to adjust when things don’t go as expected. If one check-in runs behind, I’ll complete a new task that may not need to be done until later. Thinking efficiently is key!
I’ll be honest: on the day of my first virtual networking event, almost everything went wrong. Prior to the pandemic, I hadn’t used Eventbrite very much for, mainly because I’d tracked my RSVPs in spreadsheets via email responses (NEVER AGAIN!). But Eventbrite has most features available in one platform – whereas I had been previously using 2-3 different platforms for such features!
So, aside from the challenge of marketing through a new database, I also had to market a new virtual platform to new users. I leaned into my team for guidance, so I could better understand the platform. I also revisited my text for the basics, ensuring that no details were missed. This in turn aided in the development of communication needed to be input into Eventbrite. We now have an entire process from beginning to end on how to coordinate and market a virtual event!
The final result was that each virtual event had breaking attendance records for our first virtual events of the year!
We’re excited to top the RSVP count as we move onto new events. If I could do it all over again, I would be more consistent in learning and engaging on each platform from a user point of view, rather than coordinator’s. With this mindset, you’re able to catch many little fires ahead of time.
How My QC Event Training Assisted Me
My virtual trainer assisted me with virtual event planning by notating all of the details essential to the event. I probe and ask questions to get my client’s interpretation of what they imagine the event to look like. Here are a few questions I’ve learned to ask, thanks to my QC Event School education:
- What do you want the attendees to feel?
- What do you want the attendees to remember?
- How many attendees do you anticipate?
- What time of day would you like?
- Is this event free to attend or is there a charge?
- How would you like attendees to RSVP?
These questions (and many more) allow me to design an event catered to my client’s needs. Meeting your client’s needs for the event is always the goal!
Food for Thought
I encourage all aspiring and current event planners alike to explore the world of virtual networking and event planning. We are constantly encouraged to social distance. So, these virtual events are where a lot of event and wedding planners can now thrive! The opportunities are truly limitless. With the proper amount of work and dedication, you could be the world’s best virtual event planner!
Lastly, it’s important to point out that virtual events are in no way “easier” than working an event in-person. If anything, a bit more focus is required to ensure the attendees and clients are receiving proper communication. Here are some tips I’ll leave you with:
- Have everything in writing. This goes for in-person events as well. All agreements, event details, and descriptions should be outlined, agreed upon, and signed for in a formal contract. This will help to avoid confusion and maximize efficiency.
- Plan your events at least 1 month ahead of the event itself. Have your marketing, timeline(s), and coordination plan(s) drafted for review. It’s always better to return and make edits than to have to start from scratch. You set the tone for your clients. Do not allow them to do it for you.
I hope you learned a thing or two today. I look forward to connecting with many of you! If you have any questions about how to organize a virtual networking event, lets me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Love + Light,