THE BLOG
11/12/2014 02:37 pm ET Updated Jan 12, 2015

How to Create a Virtual Summit in 4 Simple Steps

As a leader, you need to be recognized for your passion, magnetism, and ingenuity. You can build this reputation by connecting with other thought leaders, facilitating informative discussions, and getting involved with charitable organizations.

Or you can host a virtual summit to seamlessly accomplish all these tasks at once.

Virtual summits combine the convenience and connectivity of the Internet with the valuable educational opportunities of conferences. But instead of packing a dense block of interviews and discussions into a few days, you can spread them out over several weeks. Viewers can absorb the information in the comfort of their own homes through new levels of interactivity and community.

You don't need access to a massive network and resources to put together a successful virtual summit. I organized the Life on Fire Virtual Summit in just four simple steps that are easy to replicate.

1. Anchor Your Summit

An anchor is a thought leader who's well-known and respected in a particular industry. This person must have a natural ability to attract audiences and followers. If you can secure an influential speaker first, drawing the right people to your virtual summit will be much easier. On the other hand, locking in unrecognizable speakers could make the assembly process more difficult.

Compound your anchors to build a lineup of speakers who will naturally draw your intended audience. Who you choose is crucial because it will dictate the turnout and overall success of the summit.

2. Offer Exceptional Value

Many of the speakers who'll be presenting or interviewing for your virtual summit will likely already have books or webinars available, so you'll have to differentiate your event to encourage attendance. Make sure you emphasize the exclusivity of your summit and the insider information each expert will bring to the sessions.

With virtually no overhead costs, you can make your summit budget-friendly. Highlight its affordable price tag and the flexibility it offers attendees. Members of your audience will be much more inclined to participate in a summit that works with their schedule rather than a two- or three-day marathon of meetings.

3. Partner With a Noble Cause

The educational opportunities your summit offers will already be attractive to potential attendees, but tying your virtual summit to an admirable charity -- something that aligns with your personal and professional values -- will add another dimension to your event.

For the Life on Fire Virtual Summit, I teamed up with Adam Braun from Pencils of Promise and committed to donating the summit proceeds to help build schools in Guatemala. After visiting Guatemala, I was devastated by the fact that children didn't have access to education, capable teachers, or even basic school supplies. When I heard about Pencils of Promise, I could relate to its mission and knew it was the perfect fit.

For your summit, find a charity you're passionate about. It should also coincide with your brand story so the partnership feels natural and authentic to your target audience.

4. Promote Your Summit on Social Media

Be clear about who your target audience is, and use the power of social media to aim your message at those specific people. Envision a detailed persona -- or "customer avatar" -- that embodies your ideal attendee. Consider details such as where they live, which careers they're pursuing, which Facebook Pages they like, or any characteristics that will help zero in on these individuals.

Then, with a highly targeted marketing strategy, you can reach this audience on social media faster and on a smaller budget.

Advertise the charity you've partnered with to this group, and it will elicit an overwhelming amount of interaction with your online content. Outline exactly how attending your event will impact the organization, and broadcast the charitable goals on fundraising platforms such as Indiegogo or Kickstarter to build excitement.

Your event gives people the chance to come together under one virtual roof and engage in one-of-a-kind learning opportunities with little commitment. Remember that advertising an early roster of reputable speakers and a noble cause will generate organic buzz around your virtual event. And with a little social media magic, your summit will be a recipe for success.