Mike Alton on event networking

Get the most out of your virtual events through effective networking – 4 tips by Mike Allton

Mike Alton
• March 31, 2022

1300 words

(5 min read)

Honestly, it’s easy to get bored while attending a long virtual event. Frequent networking breaks can help your attendees stay glued. Learn four incredible ways of adding networking to your virtual events by Mike Alton. 

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“What our virtual audience benefits the most from isn’t the content in the sessions, it’s the conversations that happen outside of these sessions.” – Mike Allton. This blog discusses insights from Mike Alton’s extensive experience of hosting networking events with Airmeet.

In Dec 2021, we invited Mike Allton, Head of Strategic partnerships at Agorapulse to speak at our monthly community event. He had hosted an agency summit on Airmeet with 3000+ participants, 50 speakers, 50 brands, and 36 breakout sessions, and had a wealth of knowledge and ideas to share.

Mike is also a blogger and an award-winning podcaster and has gained in-depth event and networking experience over the last few years. 

Presenting a few highlights from our session where Mike shared his valuable insights with the Airmeet team! Read on to know Mike’s learnings, along with some extra insights on the kind of events that can leverage Airmeet’s features for virtual networking events.  

Tip 1: Time management and networking breaks are crucial 

Offline events create organic spaces for conversations. A coffee break, a hallway meet-up, or waiting rooms are enough to foster meaningful interactions. There is no such thing as a networking break in offline events. This time spent in-between sessions becomes networking time by default. 

Online events do not have such spaces to interact organically.  In a virtual setup, attendees have to be in front of their screens to interact. Hence, it is crucial to incorporate two kinds of breaks in virtual networking events – one for the attendees to step away from the screen and the other to network and chat.

Content-heavy events such as workshops or online boot camps usually have speaker sessions, networking spaces, and breaks. Meticulous time planning is crucial for programming networking into such virtual events.  

In case you are still falling short on time to incorporate networking, use Airmeet’s speed networking feature. The social lounge on Airmeet offers a speed networking space that matches the attendee with others.  They can then interact one-on-one in a breakout room. This speed networking feature also eliminates the hassle of creating event organizers’ rooms. 

Tip 2: Build online communities to boost networking at events and beyond

Online communities have been the most powerful relationship-building tactic in the virtual environment. Communities foster meaningful and close virtual interactions. They create spaces for people to connect with those who have the same interests and passions. 

Organizers can start to build a community before the event and harness its power to attract an audience for the event. A community space cultivates familiarity. People familiar with each other are more likely to participate in networking spaces and interact during your content sessions.

On Airmeet, attendees can view the profiles of other attendees. That lets them spot and interact with people they find interesting or have interacted with before. Online communities are beneficial for businesses that intend to build a loyal audience or host recurring events. 

Mike suggests building a buzz around the event using social media lives with the online community to attract more audiences. Hosting a Q&A session before and after the event will also boost engagement. With Airmeet, you can stream your event on Facebook live with a simple click and host a multi-platform event. 

Tip 3: Hype up your networking spaces to encourage in-event networking

In an in-person event, you don’t have to incentivize people to interact. All you need to do is to get the attendees to the event place, and they will find their way into conversations. 

Virtual spaces need the audience to be glued to their screens. It is easy to lose your audience in a virtual setup due to screen fatigue and the ease of leaving virtual spaces.

Hence, hyping up your networking spaces and promoting them is essential if you want to have a successful networking event. 

Airmeet lets the organizers brand every table or space individually with a unique logo, description, and welcome message. Additionally, the social lounge on Airmeet lets the attendees check out the bio or email address of a fellow participant or a host. The virtual event platform has an interactive dashboard that makes navigating the virtual event space easy. 

Use this to your advantage to make networking spaces intriguing and capture your audience’s attention. Hyping up your networking spaces is particularly beneficial for multi-format events such as conferences and summits where the audience has several choices but limited time and energy.  

Tip 4: Make in-event networking fun and easy 

Sitting in front of the laptop and introducing yourself to a bunch of strangers could seem dull and dry. Incorporating a fun element in your networking sessions will level up the energy. 

Mike shared how bingo can be an effective way to use gamification to connect people using interesting clues. You can step up your gamification tactics with leader boards. Even if there’s no actual reward, having leaderboards brings out the competitive spirit in people pushing them to take part. 

Airmeet also lets the host add a live poll for attendees and shows updates on the screen. Many people tend to multi-task during virtual engagements. Games and polls could be a great way to capture your participant’s complete attention and make the event memorable and fun for them.

You can also introduce facilitators in your networking sessions to kick-start the conversations. It is rare to have a facilitator in offline spaces, but the ambiguity and lack of close interactions in an online networking event call for facilitators. Facilitators provide an anchor to start conversations and hence, increase audience participation. 

Moreover, you can invite guest speakers with industry experts to talk on thought leadership topics. Your attendees would love to take some insights from the industry veterans and share opinions in groups.

Event organizers can also let the speakers create their table talks or virtual rooms. That will keep the audience engaged as they get to carry forward the conversation from their content sessions. It is necessary to enliven networking spaces for long events or have a diverse set of audiences not acquainted with each other.

Speed networking is yet another feature of Airmeet that can breathe life into your networking events. Spontaneously connecting with like-minded people during a speed networking event sound exciting, doesn’t it? It can also enable people to walk away with meaningful connections. 

Juggling complex tech features, making your audience comfortable, and keeping a check on the time – hosting an online event is a lot of work. Add networking spaces to this, and virtual events seem like a herculean task. But Airmeet has got your back.

On Airmeet, you don’t need to stress about using the same old features for various event needs. This smart event platform comes with an easy-to-navigate dashboard, a range of pre-set event entry formats for the audience, a landing page that showcases the event schedule, and virtual backstage for hosts and speakers to test settings. 

Did you note these points for your future events? Let us know in the comments below. 

Learn how to put networking at the heart of your events from the master – Mike Allton – himself

A candid conversation between Airmeet’s team and the event veteran, Mile Allton

Want to learn more about Airmeet? Join us at the next Commune event and listen to what our clients say about us. Sign up here to attend our next Commune session.  

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