It might sound crazy, but there are certain tactics event organizers use to help attendees network at virtual events. While in-person handshakes might not be possible, you can help attendees get the most out of the virtual event by facilitating greetings and mingling between individuals and groups throughout the event.
Event planners have figured out how to convert sessions and keynotes to a virtual experience and still offer the same high-quality content as in-person conferences.
Even though they are different than what we are used to, virtual events offer many benefits for both you and your attendees:
Virtual Event Benefits For You
Virtual Event Benefits For Attendees
However, one thing remains a challenge: opportunities to build business relationships and cultivate professional connections.
In the past, you would travel across the country to not only take in the event’s content but meet new people and network with old friends. These interactions have been traded for a computer monitor and clicks of a mouse, but you can still help attendees network even if they can’t sit face to face with each other.
It takes very little energy to offer effective networking opportunities in a virtual environment, so let’s take a look at four ways you can help your attendees network at your next virtual event.
4 Ways To Facilitate A Successful Virtual Networking Event
Meaningful interactions are the key to successful networking. There is a unique connection that forms when you exchange business cards or shake hands with industry peers during a business meeting- in fact, some argue that exchange of information is one of the most valuable parts of a business conference or event.
However, just because your attendees can’t shake hands doesn't mean that similar networking opportunities don’t exist in your virtual event.
Here are some of the most effective ways to encourage and support networking opportunities at your next virtual event.
1. Use Event Apps To Help Attendees Connect With The Right People
Event attendees are constantly looking for others from their target industry who share similar interests and business goals to connect with during and after the event concludes. You can create this same type of experience for attendees with specific functions built right into a virtual event app.
Attendees can search for people in their industry, or based on location right after they register for the event. This is a great way to keep attendees engaged before the event even starts, and you can reap the benefits by having attendees who are actively networking and sharing experiences throughout your conference.
Much like a dating app, audience members can fill out an attendee profile using quizzes, questionnaires, and surveys that allow the app’s algorithm to make connections between like-minded individuals to build business relationships that will last for years to come.
2. Use A Virtual Event Platform That Allows for Networking
Although you can’t exchange actual business cards at a virtual event, this type of online event can offer something even more valuable: ample time and networking opportunities. This starts with your virtual event platform that allows attendees to choose their schedule so they can coordinate with people in their network.
Be sure to use a platform that offers attendees multiple venues to meet each other virtually if they choose. Your virtual platform should offer venues for private meetups, breakout rooms, and other features that facilitate networking opportunities.
When attendees join your event, your virtual event platform should offer a messaging service to set up individual virtual meetings, private video calls, and make appointments. Your event platform should also offer fun add-ons like interactive agenda pages and an event lobby to allow participants an easy way to keep track of networking availability.
3. Leverage Social Media
Chances are you have used social media as a marketing tool to promote your event, and you can use social media to help attendees build connections and find others they want to connect with during your event.
To do this, simply create a special events group exclusive to event attendees. This allows a platform to share ideas, network, and collaborate on their Facebook or LinkedIn profile.
Another way to use social media for virtual networking is to use a specific hashtag for your event. Use it to promote across all social media platforms, including Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram.
Follow, share, comment, reply, and ultimately connect to people talking about your event. This allows another way for you to make introductions and encourage networking that lasts after the event concludes.
4. Hold “Just For Fun” Sessions
No one wants to sit for hours watching virtual streaming content, so why don’t you break up your virtual event agenda by planning fun activities that double as networking opportunities? This also helps with humanizing your virtual event since your attendees will have more time to interact with each other in a natural setting without distractions or interruptions.
Utilize the following methods to create an enjoyable environment so that they can get the most out of virtual networking events:
Virtual Coffee or Happy Hour: Plan gatherings just for fun and have guests BYOB as they chat in a laid-back virtual setting.
Gamification: Organize at-home scavenger hunts, memory games, or puzzles to keep guests having fun.
Augmented Reality: Use AR to set up friendly competitions and facilitate fun interactions.
Networking Opportunities Will Make Your Virtual Event Stand Out
Your virtual event’s success is determined by how many meaningful connections your attendees build before, during and after your virtual event. It may be challenging to replicate in-person networking experiences in a virtual world, so you need to look at this issue creatively and utilize virtual networking opportunities.
Effective networking in a virtual event depends on what virtual platform you are using. Partner with BeaconLive to make your next virtual event a raving success. Our solutions are entirely cloud-based, which means no problematic plug-ins, downloads, or extensions.
We offer an in-house Events Services team and Technical Support Staff for a seamless, professionally managed with endless opportunities for meaningful professional connections for all attendees.