Tips to effectively network during a virtual or hybrid event

Padma Sankar
• July 2, 2021
networking in a event
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irtual events are a great alternative to physical events especially due to their low operating costs, high attendance rate, easy access from any location and definitely safer during the ongoing pandemic. However, the biggest concern is around building effective relationships and networking, both in a personal and professional capacity. Event attendees connect with like-minded professionals who share similar interests during and post events. In the virtual world, a similar experience can be created for attendees.

According to the State of Virtual Events 2021 Report, the primary reason that respondents run online event experiences is to create engagement with their target audience (45.3%),  Source.

event engagement

How do you ensure you are engaged during the event and are able to build connections with each other? One of the success factors for a virtual event is based on the number of meaningful connections you are able to make before, during and after the event. Here are some of the ways to establish effective networking during virtual events.

Build your complete profile

Attendee profile is an effective way for other event attendees to discover who you are, what you do, and how to reach you outside the virtual world. While registering for any virtual event, you fill out a registration form giving professional details. This is a great way to introduce yourself and boost your visibility among attendees. You need to clearly mention your areas of expertise, social handles, and your website details which will help other colleagues of similar interests to easily find and reach out to you. Research about the event schedule, session topics, speaker profiles and prepare a relevant questionnaire that you might want to ask during the event. This information is helpful during speed networking that happens in the virtual lobby before and after every session.

Engage effectively by leveraging the virtual platform capabilities

Choosing the right event platform is key for an event organizer for a successful virtual event. They need to ensure that the platform offers multiple avenues for attendees to network. Delivering close to an in-person event experience can be achieved by leveraging the networking capabilities available in the tool such as live chat, Q&A section, virtual lobby and more.

Virtual lobby

Build meaningful connections through this virtual interactive space. Engage in informal huddles, breakout sessions, cocktail hours, product demonstrations and speed networking using this space. You can view profiles of each other so that you can connect with people of similar interests. You will be able to connect one on one or to a larger segment of people with similar interests. Building contextual connection is more useful rather than blind networking. Leverage virtual lobby pre and post sessions for effective networking.

I was looking for an online tool to use for a virtual event. Most of the tools were uni-dimensional; there were not many which were interactive. The picture of Airmeet’s ‘Social Lounge’ caught my attention because it had the same table-chair kind of format as our round table conferences in ground events. None of our peers were networking virtually. I felt we could use this as a first-mover’s advantage.” Kasturi Guha, Product Marketing Manager, Zycus

Live Polls and Q&A session

Audience engagement is one of the biggest challenges that the virtual event industry is facing. The platform capabilities should support functionalities that let speakers and attendees engage seamlessly. During the live session, you should be able to share their feedback and ask questions via Q&A sessions. This improves interaction and exchange of information among speakers and attendees. This encourages discussion that results in building a long-term relationship. You can also upvote a particular question so that it will be prioritized by the speaker while answering. Live poll is set up by the organizers/speakers to get views from participants. This can be set up in between the sessions to interact with the audience and get their point of view.

Chat section

Real-time interaction is a great way of enhancing the virtual experience. Utilize these discussion forums as a networking opportunity and build meaningful conversations related to the session or ongoing demonstration. 

Raise Hand & Invite to Stage

Raise hand functionality is mostly offered by all virtual event platforms. Leverage this feature to engage with the speaker and fellow attendees and share a spotlight on the stage. If you want to interact with the speaker and the host, they can choose the “Raise hand” button. If the host accepts the request, you will share the stage with the speaker and be visible to others.

“With most platforms, participants just listen to people; at the most, they can do a poll. But with Airmeet, the lounge aspect makes it really active – participants can actively participate and talk to others. That is a unique feature that other platforms lack.” – Glenn Vandamme, Co-founder, Finplex

Leverage Social Media

Organizers use social media to promote the event and get more registrations. Similarly, you can leverage social media to find out peers who will be attending the event using the event hashtag. You can get introduced with your peers before the event through social media. Linkedin groups are used to connect event attendees with each other to share ideas, network and collaborate effectively. Follow the hashtag, post about the event that you will be attending, reply for relevant posts and make new connections. Social media comes handy pre and post events to make new connections and also follow up with the connections you made during the event. Following the official event pages, organizers and community managers is a great way to keep yourself updated.

And last but not the least, stay in touch!

Send a quick follow-up email to all the connections you made along with your bio and contact information. During virtual events, it is even more important to focus on your networking efforts and it is still possible to get connected to new business opportunities by following these tips. Use the above tips to network effectively at virtual events and leverage the benefits of virtual events to build meaningful connections.

FAQs

The primary purpose of attending a physical, virtual or hybrid event is to build meaningful connections and expand your network. The networking events expand business opportunities. In addition to that, it also helps to build professional relationships while attending virtual events. 

These are some of the popular networking tips in virtual events or conferences. Research about your fellow attendees’ profile, build your individual profile card and establish your networking goals. On the day of the event, engage with fellow attendees with similar interests to expand your network.

A virtual event is hosted on a virtual platform like Airmeet which includes an immersive forum for speakers and organizers to host live sessions with powerful networking features. Networking events primarily focus on improving attendee engagement and empowers them with ample networking opportunities.

Some of the common networking activities are, build your complete social profile and connect with like minded individuals in your industry. Attend relevant virtual events or even use your alumni network to build connections.

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