Recently I came across several interview transcripts that I thought would be of value to the readers of the Women in Ecommerce Blog. The one today is all about running your own online party. Here’s the Q and A:

Q. What is an online party – and what are the different forms they can take?

A. An online party is a party made by an individual and/or group via the “Net” done virtually typically in a chat room or on a forum where many people can be invited and can enter the room at one time. This can be done in a regular chat room or in a conference room that has audio and visual capabilities.   Most people do their online parties in a party room so to speak, some Web Sites rent their party/chat rooms out for this purpose, and some are free.

Q. How does an online party differ from a regular home party?

A. An online party differs from a home-party in that it is done virtually, via the “Net” rather than face-to-face.  In many instances people love this idea because they do not need to leave the comfort of their homes to go anywhere.   They can actually sit in their pajamas and have a blast, while making those sales!   Just think, nothing to set up, no worrying about food, or beverages, unless you want a virtual one. –  You are also able to reach masses of people at any given time.

Q. What types of parties are the most successful to hold online?  Does anyone ever host a networking “party?”

A. You can pretty much sell just about anything online as a party offering people incentives such as games and prizes or a percentage off, even a service can be sold.  This in itself is a type of Networking, because you get to know the people at your party, you collect their emails and such.

You can most definitely have a Networking party.  Imagination is a wonderful thing, and it is endless! 🙂 I think majority of the time people sell products more than services, however I have seen services being offered many a time.

Q.  What are some of the benefits of running your own online party?

The biggest benefit to running your own online party is the sales that you can make during the party, enabling someone in the direct sales business, for example to meet their quotas if they have any, but of course it is a way to make extra income as well.  The other benefit is that if you run a good and fun online-party, your name will get out there, and you will gain exposure for yourself and your business.   Therefore, people will come back for more.  This is another form of self-promotion that works!

Q. What are some of the key elements in properly planning my online party?

Naturally just as a “real-life” party, you need to send out invitations, post invites in forums, chat boards, etc, with the time, date, and your business link.  You will want to do that beforehand enough in advance so people will be able to come, but not too far in advance so that people could forget about it.  You will also want to set some time up for game time and any questions your guests might have.

1.  Are there any solid statistics on results of these online parties?  2. Are there ‘fakes’ wasting the time of the people genuinely interested?  3. Are there average percentages of closing ratio to attendees?

Q. How does one go about creating a CHAT ROOM facility or forum space and how do we solicit an audience? And is there any other technology I might need to run my own online party?

A. All you need is a computer, and a party room or appropriate forum.  You can also use a chat area or conference room with audio and visual capabilities, such as SKYPE but most of those rooms do charge a fee for their usage. And lets not forget social media. Any number of LinkedIn Groups, Facebook groups and Twitter accounts have been known to host a party or two. You can set these up yourself or get permission from/invite a group owner to participate.

For example, I’ve personally done some parties using a Power Point presentation, but again not everyone has PowerPoint and other times a webinar based program will work even better.  However, you can also have a party, and those that are interested in seeing a PPT. presentation, you can email it to them as well.

Q. What are some of the ways I can effectively promote (get the word out) my party/event?

Word of mouth, via email.  Advertising your party on your site, forums, mom groups, boards, Networks, Yahoo groups, but keep in mind that some Yahoo groups do have rules for online posting on certain days.  So please follow the rules and guidelines.   You can also use e-vite, event bright and other web-based invitations to promote your event via email. Any and all of these forms work wonders, especially when you add an enticement or premium to get people to attend, for example.  “Drawing to be held at the end of the party” or “20% off on selected items.

Q. Let’s talk about charging for my event.  What types of parties will people pay to attend and what types do you feel should be offered for free? How do I decide what to charge?

A. If someone is involved in a “vendor fair” then you as the vendor will be charged for a time slot, or slots depending on how many times you want to have a party.  In most cases, you get a deal when taking more than one slot, but the party to the public is free for them to join in.  Most do not charge for entrance into a party if you are a guest. If you are running your own party, that is free to the public as well.  No one wants to pay to enter a party, in fact most are enticed by coming to your party because you are either running a special or having games and prizes.

Now if you might be doing a type of Networking event, you might consider charging for that, but in my humble opinion, it should be free to the public, because that’s what gets them coming to your party along with things that will entice them.

Q. Do you recommend we enlist a co-host for our event?

You can have someone else host a party for you yes, but in most cases it is that host who gets the rewards for hosting your party for you.  Many do party swaps, where rewards are swapped that come from the company itself, but the sales that are accumulated still does go to the individual who planned the party.  In this way everyone is rewarded and everyone gets the sales.  Also, in some cases there is a sales quota.  So for example, if xyz company/person meets $150.00 in sales that night your hostess wins whatever rewards is coming to him or her.  This is another good way to get more people to coming to your event, because it is the responsibility of the host to invite people as well as your own.

For those of us that have never been in a “chat room” and simply have not utilized online resources, start with WHERE to find reputable areas to conduct a party. Ask your network, your current contacts in your social media sites and professionals whose opinions you respect.