With most in-person events currently paused, here’s how one EO chapter is using a creative approach to make 150+ “micro-collisions” among members to drive relationships and value.
As the pandemic continues into the winter months, people crave connection more than ever—particularly when physical connection has been challenging.
Thinking outside the box, Brad Stevens, president of EO Atlanta, created a way to increase EO member engagement across the 150-member chapter with 43 Accelerator participants.
We asked Brad about this exciting new initiative.
How did you come up with this initiative to grow EO member connections?
In my one-year term as president of EO Atlanta, one of my goals is to drive engagement and retention within our membership. We wanted to find a way to achieve quick wins with high takeaway value.One of the greatest sources of value EO provides is the relationships each of us build within the EO network. Ironically in the face of COVID, I want to end this year with EO Atlanta members knowing one another better than ever.
As we know, when two EO members connect, value is immediately created. Whether it’s an insight about a key problem, an amazing book or podcast share, a vendor referral, a parenting strategy, a key relationship introduction, or one of dozens of other ways we create value together.
I think of each EO Atlanta member as a high-value node on our network. Our goal was to increase the number of connections each member has within that network in a convenient way. Increasing each member’s EO connections is a leading indicator for chapter growth, participation, perceived member value and overall retention. With this program we’re making over 150 member-to-member connections every single month and creating a significant value.
Pre-COVID, when learning events were held in-person, new members who didn’t know very many people often felt awkward attending. That hurts engagement. However, when members get to know other members and experience the value of our network, it increases member value, engagement and attendance.
Unfortunately, the pandemic stopped in-person events. However, we’re entrepreneurs and we love a challenge! We wanted to find a virtual way to create mass connections during this downtime. If we succeed, it will drive higher engagement and attendance levels when we eventually get back to in-person events. And that’s good for every member of our chapter!
Tell us about the EO Atlanta 1-on-1 Connections Program.
Depending on how long a person has been an EO member, they might know the members in their Forum plus 10 or 15 additional members. Our goal is to increase that number dramatically.
We came up with a master spreadsheet of EO Atlanta members’ websites, business descriptions and contact information.
We asked EO Atlanta’s Jason Rhoades, whose company, Toolbox No. 9, builds digital experiences, to write custom code for this new program. It pairs everyone in the organization with someone outside their Forum every two weeks. Participating members receive a one-on-one mutual introduction from a “Concierge” email account we created and they have a 30-minute conversation or Zoom meeting. It’s that simple.
How does EO Atlanta’s 1-on-1 Connections initiative work?
• Twice a month, participating members receive an email introduction to another EO Atlanta member who is not in their Forum.
• The email includes each member’s name, company, LinkedIn profile (if available), and a brief bio.
• The email includes a suggested agenda for an efficient “speed connection chat” to get to know one another via Zoom or phone.
• The email specifies one person as the meeting initiator. That member shares available times or an automatic booking link to schedule the call.
We ask members to try to add value to their connections during the call. And we offer conversation starters:
• Share your business and industry recap.
• How long have you been in EO, and why did you join?
• What’s been your biggest challenge/opportunity during COVID-19?
• What is the latest book or podcast you loved, and why?
• What is your favorite tool or app, and why?
• Needs and leads: Is there a type of connection I can introduce that would be helpful?
How have EO members responded?
The program began in November 2020. We’ve had a very positive response. Members have shared that it’s a small time commitment for a big gain:
“In the COVID-19 environment, most EO events understandably focus on learning and involve larger groups through virtual formats but therefore remove the opportunity for “instimacy” (instant intimacy), which is a hallmark of EO. The 1-on-1 Connections initiative offers a rare moment of instimacy with fellow entrepreneurs and creates new connections with fellow chapter members that I haven’t met.”
― Jan Heybroek, EO Atlanta, President and CEO, MDoutlook
“With the increased importance of networking and developing strategic partners, the 1-on-1 Connections initiative is invaluable to me. We all need to be knocked out of our relationship bubbles, and this is a perfect tool. My first call exceeded expectations. I’m looking forward to the next call!”
― Jon VanderMeer, EO Atlanta, CEO, Kiosk & Display
How does this initiative enhance member value?
What we’re doing here is creating valuable micro-collisions within our organization—that would normally happen during EO events—but we’ve figured out a way to accomplish it virtually. By providing a little bit of structure and encouraging members to meet new people within the chapter, we’re helping people grow their networks. It adds value now, and we believe it will impact renewals with each member enjoying far more relationships within the organization.
We plan to share how we’ve accomplished this with other EO chapters so it can be a repeatable initiative to drive engagement and member value across the entire EO organization. The more EO members who know each other, the more value we can drive individually and as an organization. We’re increasing the strength of our network, one connection at a time.
Brad Stevens is president of the EO Atlanta chapter. He’s an author, speaker, career entrepreneur, and founder and CEO of Outsource Access, which provides highly vetted and trained virtual assistants from the Philippines to entrepreneurs, CEOs and busy professionals worldwide.