Virtual networking events help build industry connections in today's increasingly digital world. In 2022, 40% of marketers expected their events to be virtual. Moreover, these events are also perfect for marketing your products and acquiring leads.
However, a successful virtual networking event has to be a two-way street. The host and the attendees must engage proactively to make it a productive event. An engaging atmosphere is non-negotiable, whether it’s an event with your company’s different branches or a business networking seminar.
But how do you host an impactful event despite roadblocks like lack of in-person communication and technical glitches?
To help you, here’s a guide on how to easily host a virtual networking event and create long-lasting relationships.
Virtual networking events are conferences hosted via a virtual event platform where participants connect for professional development or business opportunities.
Attendees meet individuals of similar or different industries and try to build a professional network. The goal is to connect with people who can help you progress in your career. It can also be an excellent opportunity to expand your knowledge in your current role and industry.
Having the convenience of your own space while building a robust network is the most evident perk of virtual networking events. But apart from that, it offers an array of other benefits:
Don’t know how to juggle the different networking elements and create a memorable experience for your audience? The following strategies can come in handy:
One of the primary drivers behind people attending your virtual event is your reputation in the digital world. Whenever someone hears about your upcoming event, they check your website and social media profiles. So, make a good first impression with a memorable online presence.
Assess the current state of your social media profiles. Ensure all information, including CTAs to different landing pages, is up-to-date. Create an event-specific display picture for your social media profiles.
Update the bio with a brief overview of your upcoming event with a link to its landing page. To create urgency, you can add an event-specific countdown clock on your website’s homepage or social media stories.
Create Instagram reels, TikTok videos, and posts around your event’s topics. Post blogs touching on the topics you intend to cover. It will place you as an industry expert, intrigue your followers, and nudge them to register for the event to learn more. Consider creating separate, event-specific LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social media profiles to keep your event promotional activities cohesive with the audience.
Finally, monitor conversations around your brand and engage with the audience promptly. The better relationships you build online, the more people will join your virtual networking event.
The next step is to plan a schedule that works for most of your target audience. You can send online surveys and analyze previous event attendance to identify the optimum time. If you are targeting a global audience, consider different time zones.
List out the requirements for hosting a virtual networking event. You must categorize these tasks based on importance and the schedule you decide on.
Your priority should be choosing the event’s topics, a smooth hosting platform, and the right speakers. Then, create the registration page and start marketing your event. You can curate the activities and presentations while your campaigns create buzz.
Craft an agenda to plan out a solid event schedule. Keep ample time for introductions, Q&A sessions, time for speakers, and closing remarks. Include the topics you plan to cover on the agenda as well.
Virtual events are prone to technical failures like internet connection problems and other glitches. So, ensure you leave some buffer room to accommodate those.
Send out digital copies of the agenda to your participants. It gives them a sneak peek of what to expect and the event’s overall flow.
An elevator pitch is a short but memorable description of who you are and what you do within the span of an elevator ride, i.e., 30 to 60 seconds approx. The goal is to introduce your business, engage your audience, and start a conversation.
Elevator pitches can be the perfect icebreaker for virtual networking events. You must get to the point quickly to intrigue and engage the audience.
These are crucial elements of an effective elevator pitch:
Practice your elevator pitch till you are well-versed in it. This way, you won’t have to come up with something impromptu and miss out on crucial points about your products.
As a host, it’s your job to moderate the discussions and ensure smooth interactions between the audience. So, learn to identify the faltering points in the session and introduce event entertainment ideas and discussion prompts to keep the conversation going.
Few are confident enough to take the initiative and introduce themselves at online events. So, break the ice by asking fun questions or giving prompts to the guests.
For example, ask them to share one of their big life goals or talk about achievements they are proud of. Keep it light and simple. Ensure the conversation starters align with the attendee’s job role, company, or industry.
Holger Sindbaek, the founder of Online Solitaire, says, "As someone who's attended countless virtual events, I can tell you that 'Zoom fatigue' is real. But one event broke the monotony for me. The host used real-time polls and quick breakout sessions to discuss the results. It was like playing a quick game of trivia but with industry topics. I was engaged, I contributed, and I left the event feeling like I'd actually connected with people. So, if you're hosting, remember this: engagement is a two-way street. Don't just talk at us; involve us. Because when you make it interactive, you're not just hosting an event; you're creating an experience."
At your next virtual networking event, don’t just sit back and wait for someone to ask questions. Interact with the audience between the discussions. If the speaker is presenting, keep up the event’s energy by asking thoughtful questions.
How to get started 👉 Warm up the room with Confetti’s icebreakers, which are perfect for speed networking. (There's even a Networking version!)
Imagine running a singular virtual networking session with hundreds of people on the screen simultaneously. It can get very overwhelming and chaotic.
To avoid that, use the breakout rooms of your hosting platform. That way, you can hold virtual networking sessions with small groups and run more impactful discussions. It also simplifies targeting the audience with tailored content.
Pose fun questions and divide the participants into groups. They can then answer the question in separate breakout rooms, allowing them to network with like-minded professionals on a deeper level.
How to get started 👉 Allow your participants to engage with new faces in a friendly game of Mash-Up!
Your role as a host doesn’t end when the event is over. To strengthen the relationships you created during the event and drive interest for future seminars, promptly follow up with the attendees.
Ask the participants whether they found value in your event. Something as simple as a thank-you email will make them feel valued. Share additional resources you may have promised during the event with social links to stay connected with you. You can also add a small discount voucher to drive conversions.
If your virtual networking platforms allow, you can share a recorded video of the event so the attendees can play it back at their convenience. If some missed it, you can email them a link like Activate Summit does.
Some hiccups in the event are nothing to be worried about. However, you should analyze the issues from the collected feedback and reflect on any challenges you may have noticed during the event. That way, you can eliminate those problems in your next event and enhance the experience for future attendees.
Follow-up emails are also an excellent opportunity to collect feedback. Note the suggestions and apply them to improve your future virtual networking events.
While the above networking event ideas may seem like a lot, executing them doesn’t take much.
All you need to use are feature-rich virtual event platforms — like Confetti.
From hundreds of exclusive team-building activities to professional development ideas, this nifty platform can create engaging and memorable events for your attendees.
With Confetti, you get:
Want to build meaningful connections and succeed with flying colors in event hosting? Plan your own virtual networking events with Confetti!