With a shift to virtual events from their in-person alternative, we’ve also seen a massive shift in how we network. But how are we meant to foster networking at virtual events?
After all, we’re all well aware of the importance of networking.
It’s something that’s reinforced by every marketing expert you’ll meet. Networking can bring on new relationships and opportunities that can help drive both careers and businesses forward.
The great thing about virtual events is that even though they aren’t in-person, they still provide ample opportunities for driving new business.
You just need to switch gears and make some important adjustments!
We’re here to run through some of the ways you can create networking opportunities in your virtual events. We’re sure you will find a tip that’s perfect for you, whether you’re simply attending the event, or hosting it from start to finish.
Networking at Virtual Events as a Host
Before you start thinking of ways to provide opportunity for networking at virtual events, consider if it’s appropriate for your event.
It’s possible your virtual event may include a speaker who will need plenty of time to cover important topics.
Rather than forcing time for networking into the event, it may be better to leave it out and host a separate virtual event solely for the purpose of networking. This helps attendees focus on the speaker and pay attention to the content.
If you choose to include networking as a part of your virtual event, be sure to announce that opportunities for doing so are available.
You might also present networking as something to take part in following the event. This could be through social media, direct chats, or other forms of webinar communications.
Networking at Virtual Events as an Attendee
If you’re attending a virtual event, this may be your only chance to network! Make the most out of the opportunity and set yourself up for success.
Before you register for the event, check to see if the option for networking is readily available.
Check for links to social channels, mentions of afterparties, or hashtags that can lead to further discussion. It’s more than likely that the opportunity for networking will be made available in some way at the event.
If the opportunities aren’t seemingly obvious, you can always take the initiative to email the host ahead of time. Chances are if they haven’t already set it up, your prompt will encourage them to do so.
Built-in Tools for Networking Success
Knowing about the possible networking tools that exist within your webinar platform is great information for both hosts and attendees. It’s common for different tools to be built right into the webinar software which you can use to your advantage.
Social media and live chat widgets are incredible for getting conversations going and keeping them going!
You might also include a bio for each of the speakers to serve as a means for contacting them. If they’re open to it, you could include their social media handles or an email that attendees can reach them at.
Just remember, even if you’re not openly offering these tools for networking, they may still be used for doing so. Use this to make your decision on whether or not to use certain built-in tools.
Other Tools for Networking
Networking at virtual events doesn’t need to start right when the event does. It doesn’t need to stop once it has ended either.
There are plenty of ways to create networking opportunities outside of the webinar platform such as utilizing your registration page or sending out marketing emails.
While you’re sending out event details or following up, include any of the social media tools or bio information that could be helpful for networking purposes. You might also offer opportunities to chat through platforms such as Twitter or Facebook.
If there wasn’t enough time for networking at the virtual event, you could also direct attendees to join a Slack group or create a second event just for networking.
Remember: The more opportunities you present to attendees, the more likely they are to take part.
A Final Note on Virtual Events
As you’re planning your virtual event, be sure to set yourself and your attendees up for success.
Start off your meeting by running through the agenda for the event and discussing housekeeping information. This could be things such as when a speaker will be presenting, or when there will be time for questions and conversation.
Laying this information out for attendees will give them a better line of sight on what to expect. They’ll have confidence in knowing they have time to network and will have a better idea of when the opportunity will be presented.
Your event will not only run smoothly, but both you and your attendees will have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve gone the extra mile to drive your businesses forward!
Want to learn more about making your next virtual event your best yet? Click here to get started.