Networking. It’s that word that makes some people cringe, while others light up at the thought of making new connections. Regardless of whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, networking is a key part of growing any business.
But gone are the days when networking meant shuffling around a noisy room trying to shout over the din to exchange business cards before moving on to the next stranger. Virtual networking events open up a whole new world of possibilities!
We explore how to host a virtual networking event that helps you make those crucial connections to grow your business. From picking the right technology to follow-up strategies.
Tech That Makes Virtual Networking Possible
Virtual networking events weren’t even possible just a few years ago. But technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, making online networking not only possible but also preferred by many attendees.
- Video chat platforms like Zoom make it easy to see someone’s face and get those visual cues that build rapport during a conversation. No more straining to hear over the chatter of a crowded room!
- Custom virtual event platforms allow you to create a branded, seamless experience for your attendees. You can handle everything from registration to live streaming and networking features.
- Virtual reality takes online networking to a whole new level of coolness. Imagine attendees mingling as avatars in a computer-generated conference venue. Geographic limits? Gone! VR gives that “in real life” networking experience.
With the right tech, the possibilities for great virtual networking are endless. Everything from huge conferences to small networking sessions can happen successfully online.
Spread the Word! Marketing Your Event
You planned an amazing event. But if no one shows up, what’s the point? That’s why promoting your event to drive attendance is so important.
- Leverage social media by creating event pages and posting updates across your company’s accounts. Encourage partners and guest speakers to share event info with their followers as well.
- Email marketing campaigns can feature save-the-date emails, reminders, special offers, and more. Segment your email list for more targeted outreach.
- Direct mail might include postcards or flyers to promote your event. This can be more eye-catching than an email.
- Paid digital ads through Google, LinkedIn, and other platforms help expand your reach. You can target ads demographically and geographically.
- Check out this article on networking event ideas for more tips on driving registrations.
After the event, analyze attendee demographics, feedback surveys, and sales inquiries to assess what worked best, then refine future marketing accordingly. Track referral links and promo codes to gauge campaign success.
Use Your Platform’s Features to Connect Attendees
Choosing the right event platform is key for hosting engaging virtual networking events. Look for features that facilitate those casual collisions that spark conversations.
- Interactive floors that attendees can explore bumping into each other by chance. Then chat by video with a simple click.
- VR environments like exhibit halls, meeting lounges, and even tropical beaches! The possibilities are endless.
- Group video chat makes conversations flow easily. Attendees can pop in and out of public or private chats.
Gamification with leaderboards, points, and rewards drives friendly competition for making connections.
The right platform will allow you to incorporate features tailored to your audience and event goals. During the event, suggest attendees visit certain areas or join group chats to get them mingling!
Follow Up for Ongoing Connections
Don’t let your hard work promoting and hosting your event go to waste. Follow up with attendees to build real relationships.
- Survey attendees for feedback right after the event when it’s fresh in their minds. Find out what they liked, what could be better, and who they connected with.
- Share recordings and documents so attendees can revisit anything they found helpful.
- Introduce attendees who seemed like a good potential fit to connect post-event.
- Send personal emails to continue conversations with attendees you met. Offer to answer any other questions!
- Track sales activity in the weeks after the event to see if any networking converted to business.
- Start planning your next event! Use feedback to improve and drive even more connections.
Hosting online networking events takes strategy — from choosing the right technology, creatively promoting your event, facilitating connections during the event, and following up to turn those connections into real relationships. Apply these tips to host networking events that expand your reach and drive business growth.