“Building a Digital Platform to Foster International Trade“ is an international business conference organized by the International Youth Economic Forum in Russia, on June the 5th. The purpose of the conference is to bring together businessmen from different industries to exchange the major tools they used during the pandemic to overcome communication problems. The discussion focused on the convenience of virtual shows in establishing effective b2b and b2c communication.
Mr. Jalal Benbrahim, the cofounder of the FoodEshow, took part as a speaker and shared his valuable insight from the FoodEshow experience. Here are some of the main takeaways from his intervention.
Virtual events have been a solution to survive communication during the pandemic. Jalal thinks that this is an interesting concept we can adapt even after the pandemic because of all the possibilities it allows us to explore. But, in order to guarantee the success of virtual events, there are two main points to consider inspired from the experience of the FoodEshow.
It’s a new adventure
At first, people were not used to virtual events. That is why, before we could start the FoodeShow, we had to educate everyone who should be involved on the value of participating in online events. In addition to that, we needed some time to explore the idea in action and look at the ways we can implement it. We worked on the design of the whole experience starting from planning the objectives, choosing the platform that will host the show, and working on the content of the event and the marketing campaign. That’s why it’s been a learning journey indeed.
It’s hard to maintain engagement
We thought that managing an online event would be very easy compared to onsite events. It actually turned out to be quite the opposite. The thing that we found most challenging was to ensure participants’ engagement. We had to make sure they log in at the right time and keep them engaged during the whole event.
But hey, it’s a rewarding experience because…
Given the challenges, online events involve many unique opportunities. Besides the convenience of time and space and the ability to communicate with more people from all around the world, according to Jalal, the core value lies in long-term community engagement. Creating communities and serving them with valuable content throughout the whole year; before the event takes place and after it’s over, is the essence of a successful virtual show.
Check out the conference session at (link) to see Mr.Jalal’s intervention and learn about the experience of other businessmen from different industries. The conference is in Russian but make sure to turn the page into English so you can benefit from the translation in the session.
Virtual events are a new modal most of us are still trying to explore. People from different industries have recognized the benefits of hosting online shows. Both business owners and show attendees appreciate the experience. But, in order to get the true, full value of the virtual event, it is important to prepare yourself beforehand.
Schedule and Set Up
Honestly, the idea of working surrounded by all the comforts of home makes productivity impossible. Sitting on your beautiful living room couch, or on your bed with a computer upon your lap, open to plans with friends is exactly why you can’t check all the To-Do boxes you prepare. Hence, you need to create a whole ritual around it. First of all, free your schedule for the event as though you’d have to drive up to it. Then, select a designated place free of distractions and organize your equipment as you please. Preparing your favorite snacks and putting them at your disposal is also a plus. You will definitely need the maximum focus you can sustain.
Let’s begin with the obvious, maintain a high-speed internet connection. You don’t want the internet crushing during the event causing a stressful time. That’s why it is better to make sure the internet is in good condition before you attend.
Your charge cable should be nearby, good headphones and audio quality, and a comfortable chair. You might want to go the extra mile and get yourself lighting gear for night events. The thing is, equip your desk with everything you might need.
Networking is the creme of virtual or real-life events. Not only does it create a harmonious ambiance among the attendees, but it can also be an effective way to expand one’s business reach. To ensure the best outcomes, you need to:
Join community talks and connect with other attendees of the show. Generally, there would be discussion forums for such events where you can meet people and introduce yourself. Add people to your social media accounts for long-term connections.
Research speakers of the event online and check their areas of expertise. That will help you choose proper questions to ask during the event. You might want to add them to your social media accounts too.
Check out the website of the show hosts or download the app designed for the event. In fact, you will find everything you need to know about the speakers, the event agenda, and a community talks section.
During the event
You can’t be expected to watch the event passively. Regardless of how focused you are during the event, you need to ask questions and take notes. It doesn’t mean that you pressure yourself to speak when you have nothing to ask. At least, be prepared to answer the speaks when they ask for your opinion. If you take notes of the things you find interesting, it will help your thought process, and you might end up with a couple of questions to ask at last.
This might sound like a lot to do. But once you try to put more effort into the process, you will always feel the need to prepare for virtual events to maximize your long-term gains.
Tell us about yourself
My name is George Bailey and I am a Senior Fellow for the Center for Global Enterprise and serve on multiple company Advisory Boards. . I have a lot of experience helping companies align the way that they operate with their strategy. The last 12 months have been spent helping companies get their supply chains focused on the customer and digitized their processes. This helps all companies, maybe especially food companies, create rewarding experience for their customers and a resilient supply chain that can keep things working even in a crisis.
How would describe your professional career?
I started out in general management consulting, became a senior executive at IBM, was the global Chief Transformation Officer for Sony, set up the Digital Supply Chain Institute and act on the Advisory Board for Lockheed Martin. I also teach a graduate class at Pepperdine University.
Can you tell us about a time where you encountered a business challenge?
The Chairman of Lufthansa German Airlines asked me to improve the global flight catering business. I won’t go into the details, but the operations around preparing and serving food to passengers around the world is not simple!
Which supporting skills do you think are most important when it comes to leadership?
There are two skills that are most important. The first is to be able to listen to the customer and figure out what would delight them. This is a skill based on innovation, creativity and customer sense. The second is to operationalize required changes. This skill is based on disciplined execution, attention to detail, and boldness.
What steps do you take to make sure that projects are completed on time, on budget, and to the proper standard?
Monitor everything that matters to the customer and the CFO. Trust and verify the work of the team. Measure and report.
What are you passionate about?
My number one thing is getting operations tuned up to meet customer and shareholder needs.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In 5 years I will still be helping companies get aligned with the New Customer. The customer that has different needs than we even new about 5 years ago. The pandemic accelerated this change.
How do you see the food industry?
The Food Industry performs miracles. The world’s vast supply of food products are somehow produced and distributed in a way that works exceptionally well.
The foodeshow in 2 words
Your advice to the foodeshow community
Learn from the pandemic and be prepared for the next difficult challenge. Start by knowing your customer, and in some cases your customer’s customer, better than everyone else. Then make sure that your operations deliver exactly what the customer wants.