We’ll be the first to say it: talking to your colleagues on a virtual call can be really hard.
And that’s with people you already know. With people you don’t, such as when you’re networking virtually, it can be really, really hard.
Keep reading to learn about 5 easy ways you can integrate virtual networking into your next online event.
Before we get down to the virtual networking business, let’s take a beat to talk about virtual events.
Unlike live or hybrid events, a virtual event is any event that solely takes place online. Streaming content to attendees and their devices the world over, virtual events have been an impressive way for businesses and brands to connect with their targeted audiences.
However, there is one caveat to this level of impressiveness—an online event’s virtual content has to be incredibly engaging.
Networking can be awkward. Virtual networking can be even more awkward. With that in mind, how can you integrate compelling virtual segments that help your audience get to know you and one another?
We’ll show you how.
Virtual networking can be a breeze when you work with a virtual event agency.
Consider the following virtual networking ideas when you plan your next online event.
Whether you’re hosting a keynote speaker or launching a new product at your online event, schedule breakout room discussions to get people talking. These groups are typically determined by randomly sorting your larger audience into new and much smaller groups.
Talking in a breakout room promotes virtual networking in a more relaxed way. Attendees can openly discuss your event without feeling pressured by its environment. Breakout rooms also make it easier to put names to faces, as everyone’s individual screens will project theirs the entire time they’re in the group.
A breakout room discussion can be as structured or loose of a segment as you deem fit. If there are specific questions you want your audience to address, make sure you project them earlier in the event so that each group’s attendees have time to think of answers. It may also help to invite moderators into the fray to keep things running smoothly (and on time).
If your audience isn’t that comfortable with virtual networking, schedule online meet-and-greets at the beginning of your event. These will allow attendees to introduce themselves, share their relevant experiences, and talk freely about their professional or personal lives.
A meet-and-greet not only introduces attendees to one another but also to your virtual platform. Having conversations away from the main virtual event can help others feel like they’re not the only ones present.
Like with breakout rooms, keeping moderators on board to facilitate and encourage these introductions will be a big help. They can come prepared with “icebreakers” that attendees can answer while keeping an eye on the clock.
Schedule a question and answer session to promote virtual networking between your audience and the keynote professionals invited to your online event. An online Q/A usually focuses on a panel of speakers who are asked questions from attendees. You can do this by inviting attendees by name to ask questions or pull from questions sent through a chatbox.
Although it may promote less interaction among attendees at first, Q/As set listeners up for networking opportunities later in your event. If someone asks a question they like, they’re more likely to reach out mid- or post-event. Because of this, we recommend scheduling a breakout room discussion after a Q/A.
If you’re rebranding or revealing a new product from your lineup, a virtual scavenger hunt might be the way for your online event to go. It not only familiarizes attendees with your latest offerings but also helps them get to know one another as they search for the items on their list.
To explore a new website for your business or your product, you can split your audience into pairs or groups and give them a list of features and facts to find while browsing. Have an elected group member share their screen while scouring through your web pages to promote more interaction. This modality will foster group interaction and encourage virtual networking among group members, provided there’s enough time.
If the goal of your virtual event focuses on networking in general, speed networking can be a great way to kick that off. In speed networking, attendees are placed in a video chat roulette in which they only have a few minutes to talk with and connect to the person on their screen.
Although this doesn’t promote the most in-depth interaction because of time constraints, it’s a form of virtual networking that allows your audience members more opportunities to talk to one another.
Now that you have some virtual networking ideas to work with, it’s time for some virtual networking tips to make sure your event runs smoothly online:
- Establish rules of virtual etiquette before letting your event go live (i.e., when to mute oneself, what virtual behavior is appropriate and not)
- Allot enough time for virtual networking to take place in any one session
- Set time limits for attendees speaking so that others have a chance to chime in
- Hire moderators on your virtual team to guide conversation and assist tech as necessary
- Debrief attendees pre-event to make sure they’re aware of who else is attending, what they’re expected to do virtually, and if there’s anything to prepare in advance
- Run through your virtual platform’s schedule to avoid any technical pitfalls before they happen
Want some help integrating virtual networking into your next online event? Contact us today to schedule your discovery call. For more event expertise, check out our blog. To see what we can do event-wise, preview our latest work.