Networking is a key element of Luxembourg’s economic activity, especially in its startup ecosystem. However, since mid-March, a whole calendar of conferences, professional evenings, workshops, project presentations and B2B events have been postponed at best, or at worst completely cancelled. Since mid-March, we have seen so many webinars bloom on social networks. Can we transform the entire events business into video-form?
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Recluse and deprived of traditional networking since containment, companies are increasingly resorting to webinars. In Luxembourg, public and private initiatives are blossoming like the buds of this very special spring. The term webinar is a contraction of web and seminar and refers to a collective online conference. Usually, the webinar format is used to internally facilitate collaborative work or meetings between collaborators who are physically distant. But with the health crisis and the ban on meetings, companies are turning the webinar into a prospective marketing tool.
A virtual bridge
When an event requires speakers and a moderator, yes it is possible, especially through live chat. This format is also valid for a keynote, a presentation, or a round table… If we can’t all interact at the same time, it allows us to see live questions scrolling by. When it comes to product launches or more visual events, with musical sets, it’s complicated because for the atmosphere, a live audience will never be equivalent to a web audience, more volatile, and above all silent. The LHoFT nevertheless tried the experiment by organising its first FinTech Friday live via the Remo platform, chatting with the Minister of Finance and a DJ set as a bonus.
“It’s a way to give the community something else to focus on for an hour of the week.”
Networking activities can still be of interest if we accept to play the game differently. According to Gaëlle Haag, founder of the startup StarTalers, a 100% female financial management tool, before the crisis, “these workshops were moments of interaction with our community that allowed us to better understand the needs/target users and test the features we develop in the app. In this context, the use of webinars allows us to build a bridge between prospects and the company. “It’s a really interesting format that I’ve decided to continue every Thursday until further notice (when everyone will be safe and sound and we can resume non-virtual moments),” she says in a LinkedIn post announcing the next session. The first two webinars of the series have registered more than 100 participants.
It is of course the same with regard to the fidelity of the already existing community. “It’s a way to give them something else to focus on for an hour of their week – the atmosphere here is the same online as it is in the real world: relaxed, fun, authentic and fuss-free.” They chose the Livestorm platform, but there are many others like Zoom, Webikeo, Fuze or Facebook Live for beginners.
“The excuse of “not having the time” is no longer justified.”
Free or paid?
Another dilemma: should we organize free webinars (to reach more people) or paid webinars (for a targeted audience)? “Both,” answers Gaëlle Haag. “We will continue to offer free content throughout the duration of the lockdown and beyond, but we are also developing more targeted paid formats at the request of our community. “On the incubator side, the free format is the norm and there is no shortage of topics. Hub@Luxembourg and Village by CA have been organising one webinar a day at 2pm since 30 March. The network reviews useful techniques and tools to get over the current hurdle with topics such as “social law and partial activity” or “how to prepare your website to bounce back after Covid”. The LHoFT, for instance, acted as a spokesperson by relaying all the measures taken by the government to help startups in a webinar on April 1st.
The decline in business activity currently is conducive to strategic and commercial thinking. Since we have to reinvent ourselves, we might as well do it collaboratively. Using free time for virtual brainstorming is one of the benefits of the crisis. The excuse of “not having the time” is no longer justified.