Running live events can be an incredible way to grow your business and gain new relationships. In this week’s episode, Doug C. Brown speaks with Basia Piasek, the co-founder of Wolves Gate, which organizes Wolves Summit, one of the biggest tech events for startups, investors, and corporate representatives in Central-Eastern Europe. Basia and Doug discuss the power of events for business growth, including Basia’s own business, using events to build rapport, and how to use events effectively for any audience, whether it’s B2B, B2C, or B2E – plus much, much more.
We are going to talk about using live events. How do you use live events the right way for business-to-business, business-to-consumer or business-to-entrepreneur? I’m fortunate enough to have a longstanding relationship with Basia Piasek, who is from Poland. She has a company in Poland and London. She’s done business all over the world. She has built her business not solely or exclusively through live or virtual events but by using events as a major tool. It’s important to read this and the reason why events are huge leverage when you do them the right way.
They’re massive rapport-building events when you do them the right way. There’s a right way to do them and there’s not so right way. We’re going to talk about how you do this and why you’re going to do this. More importantly, when you’re bringing people together, what’s the purpose of doing that? Without further ado, let’s go to the interview with Basia.
Basia, welcome. Thanks for being on the show. I’m happy you’re here.
I’m happy too.
I want to talk with you about the thing that I noticed. I’ve watched this woman fill an event room with 1,400 people a week. It was pretty cool. I remember you invited me over to come to speak at one of your events. I was like, “How many people are going to be there?” You told me when the event was and I was like, “I’ll be there.” You’re like, “We’re getting the people in now.” It was amazing how quickly and the quality of people that were at the event. B2Training or B2E is a lot easier to understand why. You’re a B2B company a lot of times in your pursuits. Why do they want to use events? What’s great about events?
There are many reasons. Thank you for mentioning what happened many years ago but since then, I’ve been using events for all my companies. In many different sectors, I’m always using it. It’s mainly B2B. First of all, in the list of tactics of acquiring customers, people and so on, I believe and can say out of the experience that events are the best. People can quickly connect. They can get to know so many people at once instead of wasting a lot of time like having a one-on-one meeting somewhere in the city.
I believe everyone values time very much. After getting to know people or networking, they look for the best in their niche or area. I’ve been using events in both ways, more like networking events, plus some speeches and some other stuff agenda. I’ve been using events when I had only content itself without very intense networking. I still use those events for business-building purposes. I believe events are, number one, the best and the most effective tactic to acquire clients and build relationships. You can take them into phone calls, video calls and all the other stuff. It was very effective.
What I noticed when I went to the first event that you put on was the quality of the people there and the people I got to meet, which is number one but also a lot of business relationships come out of those events together because people get to bond with one another. I saw that happening not only for your company but also for my company. I believe that’s normal if people come with an open understanding of, “I’m going to meet some people and do business together.” Is that a theme that people in events should plan for?
Yes. The event that you came to Poland was in the tech business. I created an event for influencers, from YouTubers, bloggers, Instagrammers and all the other people. I then started creating events for my personal brand, even though the first one was all about networking plus some other things. We focus on having the fifteen-minutes speed date so that people can have quality meetings with people they want to meet and for something they were looking after.
Even when we didn’t have purely networking events, the networking effect and common theme, bringing people together and those breaks you have in between were a huge value when we were facilitating networking and helping people network. When they can find people struggling with the same things, having the same issues and talk to such people, those relationships are usually very valuable for business owners or people working in businesses looking forward to finding some quality customers.
Networking, even if it’s not organized because many times it’s not organized, it’s supposed to be facilitated somehow by the organizers on top of anything else they have planned for the event. First of all, you can have much better quality people there when you are putting a little bit more focus on this and are helping people not to have random connections. Random connections are good too. It’s additional VIP dinners where people could have some random conversations within a selected group of people. In your state, there were 1,500 people so they were around 300 investors and 500 people representing the corporate world. They wanted to connect with each other.
Organizing additional meetings for smaller groups of people you have within the bigger event is a very good idea because people can pay pretty big money for that. This is the way we’ve met many years ago when we were at the same event. I came from Poland to the United States. I flew for so many hours. I didn’t know there was an additional event for only a smaller group of people who attended this event. When I registered the day before, they told me there’s something like that. I’m like, “I want to get in.”
They told me that I have to pay an additional. I’m like, “Whatever it takes, I want to be there because I want to meet people who are selected from a group of people that are at this event.” It’s a huge value. Taking into account the time and we can meet all those people we are looking for, people with similar issues and problems we want to solve in one room is a huge value. This is the way I think of it and for B2B acquisition too.
If we can get into a room with people who have the same experiences, challenges, problems, frustrations and opportunities, magical things seem to happen when we get into that group. If there’s outside of that group that people also can help us with those issues, that also helps. I went to your first event there in Poland. I got on a plane from the United States to Poland. The thing that surprised me is there were a lot of people from the US and other parts of the world that came there. I thought it might be like Poland, Germany and surrounding countries but it wasn’t. It was people from all over the world. Many of them were from the United States.
It was strange because that was the first time I was ever in Poland but it was more strange for me to understand there are people who come from the United States, Canada, Mexico, wherever and fly over to Poland. At the time, I was looking at software opportunities, as you’re aware. I met the Founder of Pipedrive at your event, Mr. Henk. We shared a cab ride and got to know one another. Here’s the thing I want people to take away. For me to get to somebody like that at that time, if I was doing that traditionally, it could take me months to break into the trust circle where he might even have a sit-down conversation with me at that point.
He might have been a nice guy. It might happen on the first phone call too. Traditionally, when we try to get to CEOs or founding members of high-built companies, it takes a little time because they don’t know us. We’ve got to ridge that whole trust gap. When you meet them at an event, you, as the event planner or the person who put the event on, already gave me credibility because you invited him and me at the same time. This is so powerful.
It happens every single time when I go to an event because there’s a commonality that people are there for. I learned that from you. I learned you could fill an event very quickly. I was surprised. You told me what the numbers were when I was coming on. You said you’ll have 1,400, 1,500, maybe 2,000 people there. I’m like, “There’s no way she’s going to put that many people in an event in that short period.” I worked with Tony Robbins and all those people so I’m used to filling events. You put them in and they were in there. There were super quality people like the investors and everybody.
The reason I’m going on at this point is people who are reading, follow Basia. Do an event. It’s one of the quickest ways for you to build up an organization of people who have like-minds and build a community. I can imagine people going, “You convinced me. She filled 1,400 people.” I can vouch you’ve done multiple events after that. When you’ve come to the events in the United States, you’ve given me advice. I would suspect that somebody is going, “I’ll try to do it.” How do they do it out of the gate? Do they go try to get 2,000 people in a room? Do you recommend smaller? How should they start?
First of all, have in mind what you want to have. What’s your goal? Why are you doing this? Do you want to acquire customers? Do you want to build a network through which you’re going to get to the customers? It’s always something about building the business. In most cases, the event itself is a tool and in some cases, the event can be a brand itself. Two of my brands were events, plus additional tools we have built out of those events. For the other one, we hit 5,000 people like other brands too. Whenever we were organizing it, we have 2 separate brands, even brands we’re number one, 1 in Poland and 1 in Central Europe gathering people from all over the globe.
We were always asking ourselves, “What do those people want?” I’ll give the example of the Wolves Summit because it was the event when you visited Poland and we saw each other. We dig deep into the understanding of separate groups of people we want to invite to meet. For example, what do the investors need and what hassle do they have? What do corporations need and what hassle do they have, startups or B2B companies? There were four different types of people we were inviting in.
Know the investors who don’t want to go through the list of startups and whom you see the 4th or 10th time. We have plenty of startups applying to them and willing to invest because they didn’t have this issue. Inviting them and saying, “Come to our event because you’re going to meet a lot of startups,” wouldn’t be a benefit but understanding this situation, we said, “What can we do for them to save their time?”
Our problem is we want to find quality startups and good start-ups that want to be the first ones and we want to have them selected. We put a lot of attention into the selection process and gathering additional information about setups so that they can get to know them before coming to the event. In this way, we could pull the biggest and best brands to our event talking about those brands to other investors. Investors want to find stuff but the second need is many times, investors are investing together so they wanted to get to know other investors.
Using this as a tool to gather other investors helped us to get a nice community or a group of investors that came to Poland. Someone’s like, “Basia, I don’t have a business event. How can I apply it to my business?” It’s the same thing. Ask yourself, “What do my potential customers or community want?” You can sell them for maybe digital products, some services or tech services. I don’t know but it’s always about what they want. You can put your content into the context of problems they have because it’s always about that.
For example, when we were gathering influencers, it wasn’t B2B. It was more B2C. Knowing that we want to have sponsors that want to get to influencers, we knew that there were different benefits for the biggest influencers who helped us drag and pull other influencers who helped us sell big sponsorships to brands that wanted to be there to create huge mass communications through influencers’ channels. It’s always about that. We are never thinking only about what we want but about how we give them what they want and get what we want at the same time. That’s one thing.
The second thing is when you want to achieve whatever your goal is, for example, acquiring customers, I’m going to give you an example with one of the other companies we have. We have service companies and we invest in real estate. We have a lot of businesses. One example is real estate. We buy big old buildings with plenty of apartments in them. We change and sell it. We not only have to send out our communication to the final customer but to our investors because we are co-investing.
We have investors who are investing millions or hundreds of thousands of US dollars within the investment we are buying. We are organizing events. For us, not organizing even will be stupid because it’s the best way to build a relationship. Especially when you have premium products, building relationships is key for them to trust and give you the money. You will have some investors giving you the money only through the video conversation or some recommendation because they know someone who knows you but it takes much more time.
In 2021, we bought 20,000 square meters of apartments. It was speeding up very quickly with the whole business that is one and a half years old. We did an event and invited all the investors who had already invested but we invited their friends. We positioned the whole event as a closed event, invitation-only with the confirmation and RSVP for a very selected group of people. This is the way it was. It was almost 100 people which was small for us but for those people, it was enough to have quality networking and feel cozy. After this event, we had another row of investments. We could speak to our customers and new potential customers to build better connections and trust. It’s not only for new customers but the old ones too. It’s the best tool.
Second of all, through this, we could get to other people who get to know us. Even though most of the event was networking, we had one and a half hours of speeches about the owners of the brand, the investment, the plans and the vision. This helped us move massively forward with the brand. It’s the same thing with a different brand. We have shares in the company selling hardware and software to bakeries. It’s a pretty expensive investment but the bakery will operate much more efficiently. The income is going to be better.
It’s such a hassle to go every time to all the bakeries and show them because they have to see and experience it with the physical product. We organized an event. For bakery owners, it was with an additional gala, knowing how our customer is. We knew this was going to have to be the whole weekend, not only Saturday but Sunday with some party in the evening and drinking because those people are like this. We have to give them what they want. They want to talk to each other.
We had nice quality product exposure and how it can influence the business but here was a lot of networking and fun because those people are all about fun, at least here in our country. This one event brought us a couple of million turnovers. There were orders after orders after this event. Our first thing was, “What do they want? What do they need? How can we give them through the event?” Those are two different examples of how you have to think to organize a quality event, bring people very quickly there and make it beneficial for them but beneficial for you too.
I’ve known you for so long but I forgot to ask this question prior. How do people find out more about this, you or anything else?
I am on social media so they can find me on my social media, mainly with my name and surname, Barbara Basia Piasek. I’m on YouTube, podcast, Instagram and Facebook. We own the biggest events company in Poland. It’s a tech platform for selling events, not only ours but all the other people. We created a software tool that helps people to sell through events, not only physical events but as well online events. Online events are the second biggest tool to sell. You cannot have this quality networking. You taught me a lot about that. I’m very thankful for this because you are the guy to go to understand how to sell better.
I have to thank you so much for me being a pupil for three years with you. I didn’t want to finish it because I still felt like I was getting so much from you. You know everything already. You do your thing. I felt that those three years were amazing. You were the one who inspired me with online events because you experienced so much. I’m not only using offline but online too. We bought a 10-year-old platform with 2 million clients. We added all the online tools to sell through online events too. Combining with networking too is different than physical. You can use it, especially with coronavirus types. It helped a lot of people to use this channel. Our brand is called Evenea.
I’ve used the program so it works great. For those of you who don’t know, Basia has become family and I’ve become family on her side. She had a baby so congratulations to you and Peter and Baby Rose. I do have one last question though. A lot of people are like, “If I do a live event, what happens if it blows up again or Coronavirus version 28 comes out?” Live or virtual or a combination of both? What makes sense?
I would say the combination of both but live events will always have a bigger impact on your business. Have visual events in between but use virtual events not only to sell but to drive traffic to your physical events and offline events. You always have to compare it to regular relationships. Can you build a close friendship with someone without seeing him ever? No. It’s impossible. It’s the same with the live events.
You’re not going to be a lifelong, the closest and the best out of all of the relationships during one event. You are my second dad. I always say that because we got so close and we’re good friends like family. You are family to me. It all started at one event in the United States many years ago. We’ve done so many topics together since that time. This is how live events can impact your business. It’s massive from a logical point of view. If you think about numbers and conversions, to give you a comparison, in my opinion and experience, life events can have a couple of times bigger conversion rate than online events doing the same stuff on it.
I wanted to let people know this because you said something important. We did meet at a live event but I was also an attendee at the event where we met. The person running the event asked for certain people to stand up and ask questions or something. I asked some questions and gave some feedback. I remembered you coming over to me and going, “We got to go to lunch.” That’s how it all started out. I want people to understand that you never know where it’s going to come from in live. You can be an attendee at a live event, go and maybe speak a little bit at a live event or run the live event. Get to live events because the reality is that there’s no better marketing ever, never has been and never will change than direct face-to-face.
You and I have built a relationship of we went from not knowing one another to having lunch, to eventually client relationships, to family relationships. When you come to the US, it’s like, “I’m coming to the US.” When I go to Poland, we’re going to get together. That’s the key for people. We have consultants and a lot of people reading this. The reality is you want to make your client your best friend if you can do that. You and I have pulled that off masterfully.
You know as well as I do. I’ll jump a plane in a heartbeat if something was going on over in Poland and fly 6,000 miles to help. If you can build relationships like that in business, you’ve got the gold, not just business-wise but an enhanced life beyond. Basia, thank you again for being here. I appreciate you taking your time out of your busy day.
Thank you so much for the invitation. I’m happy that I could share my experience with you. Having Doug is a blast. If it’s the first time you read this, you have to read everything and whatever he has. If not for that, I wouldn’t have so many companies, turnover, revenue and income. I’m very grateful. I always say to everyone that he’s the most important person to influence my business life.
You’ve been a very big influence in my life as well, helping me through not only business things but life issues and things like that. I’m very grateful to have you. Until next time.
Events are fun and a great way of building massive rapport and getting people to understand who you are, help position you as the expert, maybe not even in your industry but an expert and bringing the experience of what you brought in the event to that person. That will position you higher up the trust ladder and a lot of other things that you could possibly do. It might also, depending on how you do the event, bring you up as an expert in your subject matter. You could do that as well or both of those. Imagine me in the position as the expert subject matter, as well as the heightened trust factor from doing the event itself, bringing people together and having them be able to extend what they’re looking for, for their goals and do that successfully. That is the power of events.
Whether you do a live or virtual, I agree with Basia that live events are much better than personal events. They take a little bit more coordination and people have to come to those particular events but when you’re doing those, they get to go to lunch together, have dinner together, sit down and have meetings together. There’s a different process, which that process then leads to building better relationships. You can do this virtually as well. It’s just not the same as live. I recommend, as she did, that you do both live and virtual events.
One of the most important take-outs that I took out of this was when you’re going to be inviting people, what do they want to get out of this? In other words, start with their end in mind and that will tell you the groups of people that you can bring to these events. When you bring those people to the events, whether it’s a smaller event or a larger event, they’re getting what they want and guess who they’re going to want to thank? It’s you. That’s how you can do business doing live events.
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