Taking your offline community online during COVID-19
The discussion of offline vs online, and the scalability of it all has been a topic of many team meetings and strategy sessions.
Yes, online offers us an opportunity to broaden our reach. Take the focus out of Amsterdam and support entrepreneurs throughout the world.
But are you really able to connect online? The first response is “yes”. The internet has shown us time and time again how it connects people from all over the world, who never even met each other. People built friendships, start relationships and conduct business all with people they’ve never met in real life.
So, what was holding us back?
Personally, the challenge was connecting our offline network with the online world. Getting people on board on different platforms has proven to be a challenge.
We use Eventbrite for our ticketing system, our website for our events calendar, mailings and social media to promote our programs, in the past we worked with networktables to simplify the matchmaking process, we launched an app, explored slack and many other solutions.
But we kept getting questions involving the UX and we weren’t able to find the best solution for our community.
So, we did what we knew best: host offline gatherings. Bringing people together in a physical space, with our team there as the facilitator and matchmaker. Because we know everyone, so who better to help than us?
Yes, of course, we see the limitations in that model and in the back of our minds we kept the discussing going but with so much happening within the organization we didn’t give it our priority.
Flash forward to March 2020. Covid-19 entered our country and the government decided to measures in place regarding large gatherings. First these rules only applied to gatherings larger than 100 people (which meant we had to rethink our plans to host The Next Women Summit in October this year), but after not too much time we learned that all gatherings over 3 people were forbidden until June 1, 2020.
Even though this news has had a negative impact on so many people and organizations, it has brought us something great. Because it has forced us to make the step to online. Instead of talking about it, weighing our options and making pro/con lists, we no longer have a choice. All our meetups and events have to go online for the foreseeable future. Which means that our Coaching Hours, Funding Morning, Boardroom Sessions & Founders’ Focus Club are now online events.
But it has also opened up the space of hosting more webinars and insta-live sessions, which enables us to be more flexible and hands-on with providing relevant content for our community.
The dark cloud that is COVID-19 has brought our entrepreneurial heart a silver lining. Until September 2020 we will host all our sessions and meetups online (via https://thenextwomennl.whereby.com or via our Instagram).
It’s created the room for us to experiment and measure the successs, so that when we get back to the way things were (if we ever fully will), we know how to help and support you in the best way we can.
“We need to organise our work better ánd smarter” says Martine Meijburg. Meijburg founded Second Degree in 2013; the first LinkedIn marketing agency (worldwide). A success, as the agency became one of the fastest growing companies in the Netherlands (Silver FD Gazellen Award in 2016), servicing clients such as Philips, KLM and Microsoft.
Martine is an author, public speaker and was listed in The Next Women 100 in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and the Adformatie100 in 2017. She shares with us her experiences as an entrepreneur and member of The Next Women.
She got into the world of recruitment because she showed talent for it and acted on that: at TNW we love playing out your strengths. Now, with her own company and being a mother of two, Dayanara Vonk Ilaria reflects on her journey: “Leadership really is learning how you can influence yourself.”