Get The Most Out Of Your Event Online With Virtual Networking
The live events world is adapting at a rapid pace to accommodate the virtual need for interaction as meetings, conferences, concerts, and more are being moved to digital platforms, such as Zoom, AnyMeeting, Cisco Webex, Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and more. These digital platforms are allowing communities to stay connected and form relationships through virtual networking when people need to be separated to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The internet has allowed the world to reach out to anyone with the click of a button, but how can event planners ensure that they are giving their virtual event attendees the best chance at creating that connection that they deserve? Here are some tips for event professionals on how to prepare attendees for virtual networking.
Help Engage Attendees Outside of the Event
While the virtual event is what your attendees are most looking forward to, it’s critical to provide networking opportunities for attendees that will carry on after the event. Event planners focus on external connections on social media to keep the conversation going. Outside of your virtual event platform, you can consider starting a LinkedIn or Facebook group. This external community can be used as an exclusive offering for attendees and provide more information, resources, and engagement for your virtual attendees.
If you want the networking opportunities to be more inclusive and give yourself more branding opportunities, you can look at creating a custom hashtag on Twitter or Instagram to encourage your attendees to share messages and find other attendees through public messaging.
Create a Database for Attendees to Connect
With online registration, it’s easy for event planners to have access to their attendees’ contact information and know who exactly is attending their event. But how do attendees know who else is attending the virtual event? Find a virtual event platform that offers digital business card options or registered user lists. When attendees are asked to create public profiles – or digital business cards – within the virtual event platform, it allows them to share the information that they are comfortable with sharing and provides opportunity to see what others are interested in or why they are attending.
With a virtual event platform that offers public profiles and digital business cards, attendees can request contact information or set up one-on-one meetings either within or outside of the virtual event app. How cool is that?!
Set Up Easy-To-Use Messaging Options During Your Event
Real-time messaging during virtual events builds trust between the audience and presenter. Tools like private or public messaging, Q&A, and link sharing is a great way to engage virtual attendees. Not only do the attendees feel more connected to the presenters, but they can also use the public messaging platforms to learn which other attendees may have the same questions or ideas that they have. This provides another way for attendees to learn more about each other and the presenters.
Host Virtual Hangouts
Schedule virtual hangouts throughout your virtual event through video chats and instant messaging groups. You can choose to have “virtual coffee breaks” during your event that are sponsored by hosts or event supporters. This is an excellent branding tool – especially if you can connect with a local coffee chain or supporter who would have special messaging to share during the coffee break. Anyone who is participating can jump into a group chat with the host or event supporter – or you can take the hangout publicly and ask your attendees to share a photo of their “coffee break” on social media with a custom hashtag.
Virtual hang outs don’t have to be during the virtual event! Event planners can also encourage attendees to schedule virtual hangouts outside of the event schedule. This is especially ideal for multi-day events. The more networking opportunities, the better!
If you’re looking to host a more formal virtual networking hang out like a special lunch or dinner, you can coordinate other services to complement your event schedule. For example, you can obtain a meal order from your attendees upon registration and work with local catering facilities or meal delivery programs like UberEats or Postmates to deliver a meal at a scheduled time. This way everyone can enjoy the meal together! This is also a great opportunity to host live music or a special speaking presentation during the meal time.
Challenge Your Attendees With Games & Contests
Virtual event games engage attendees who want the most out of their virtual event experience. Whether you’re encouraging team games within your virtual event platform or asking attendees to participate individually, there are a variety of game options to choose from. Virtual scavenger hunts, virtual trivia, and virtual bingo are popular options. You can also try a photo contest on social media or encourage networking through icebreaker questions.
While many of your attendees have already connected during the virtual event through chats, video calls, social media, and digital business cards, you don’t want to lose any opportunity to stay connected! Take the time to send out post-event thank you messages and start follow-up conversations with attendees to continue to keep your attendees engaged and excited about your event. Later on, you can take the next step and invite them to your next virtual (or live!) event.
Need Help Getting Started With Virtual Networking?
If you’re looking to move your live event to an online platform, contact the team at Wired Production Group. With over 25 years of experience and a dedicated team of virtual event professionals, we are here to take your event to the next level online.