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Online summits can be a spectacular way to build your email list. In short, you bring together a group of speakers (typically 20 to 40 speakers, sometimes more), to cover a fairly narrow range of topics. Each speaker is interviewed or presents on their topic for a period of time, typically about a half hour, and then shares a free download with the audience.

It can be a win-win-win. Online summits give great information for the audience, and all of the participants and speakers potentially get new people on their list, which hopefully leads to clients.

There are a few different formats that I’ve seen for online summits, but I’m sure that there are others out there as well.

Live Versus Recorded

In some online summits, the presentations are all done live, and in others, they are all pre-recorded. I’ve participated in both types of summits, but pre-recording means that you get to pick your date and time when you are feeling your best, and timing is convenient for you. If you are participating in a summit where all of the speakers are live, you present during your time slot. The benefit to pre-recording is that you can take care of most of the technical issues up front. The benefit to presenting live is that you get to interact with the audience as the event is happening.

Paid Versus Free

Some people charge to attend a summit, and others don’t charge anything. Both models can work, and it depends on what the ultimate outcome desired from the summit is. One option that exists is to charge for a VIP membership, and all of the recordings. That would result in the larger list build, as well as some income to cover the costs associated with running the online summit.

List Size Requirements

If the aim of the summit is to bring in people for your email list, you need people participating in the summit who have email lists.  If they have a smaller list, you might either have to turn them away, or bring them in as bonus experts where they just include their freebie, as you need the number of people promoting your event, and the access to list sizes.  Some people will set a list size requirement of 5000, 10,000 or more, while others will set a list size requirement much lower.  You need to have a good reach with a summit to get the best possible outcome for your business.

Narrow Topic Versus Broad

Hands down, you want to have a very narrow topic for your summit, as that is the best way to generate interest. It may seem counter intuitive, but if you have a narrow focus, you can get people on your list with a narrow focus, who are actually interested in what you sell. This is one of those times that being a generalist isn’t going to work as well, because of how people’s minds work. I will give you the example – if you are a general health coach, it will be harder to attract clients than someone who specifically works with people who want to lose 150 or more pounds.

Summits can be a great way to get your business seen, and build your audience, both by holding summits, and by participating in them. When I’m focusing on building my audience, I’ve noticed that my business also grows as well.

Here at Leadership Girl, we’re in the process of creating our signature series of summits, and the first one is the Alchemy of Successful Online Marketing.The focus is on all things marketing in the online space. We’re looking for a few more really good speakers who are interested in participating, and who would like to increase their reach.