People indulging in virtual networking ideas

Virtual Networking – Ideas to Transform your Next Virtual Event

Virgil Wadhwa
• February 28, 2023

(10 min read)

Give virtual event attendees the chance to interact with each other, network, and form new connections with these virtual networking ideas.

Table of Content

Events and meetings aren’t just about information—they’re about interaction. Virtual networking events and meetups are no different. Without human connection, they fall flat. With these virtual networking ideas, you’ll be able to effortlessly facilitate new relationships and deeper connections. 

We’ve got plenty of virtual networking event ideas for all different sorts of use cases: community meetups, business events, large groups, and more.

Plus, we offer advice on how to select the right tools for virtual networks.

Virtual networking event essentials

Before we dive into our mega list of ideas, let’s lay some groundwork. 

What you need to provide great virtual networking experiences

Virtual networking events are different. You can’t just hope that people will connect with each other in the hallway or during breaks like an in-person networking event. Instead, you have to create the opportunity for networking.

Make sure that your virtual networking strategy includes the following:

  • Time slots dedicated to networking – It’s helpful to provide clear opportunities for networking. Make the time for it in your event schedule, and clearly name all networking sessions, so people know what to expect.
  • Virtual networking spaces – You should also create spaces dedicated to networking. While chat can be helpful for certain meetings, most events should go above and beyond chat with special virtual rooms designed for networking.
  • Fun virtual networking ideas and prompts – You need to break the ice. Offer games, questions, and prompts to give people something to talk about.
  • A motivation for networking – Do people want to share advice on shared problems? Do they want to expand their business network? Figure out why people want to network and use when strategizing.

Things to consider when choosing a networking method

Use these factors to help you determine which ideas will best fit your virtual networking event. 

  • Your audience – How tech-savvy is your audience? Are they tired of seeing the same virtual networking event ideas used again and again? Are they hard to impress? The answers to these questions will help you decide which ideas will truly work.
  • Tentative group size – With a very small group, you can implement simple icebreakers and chat prompts. But the more attendees you have, the more effort you need to put into facilitating networking.
  • Capabilities of your virtual event technology – There’s only so much networking you can do with Zoom. If you’re using basic tech, you might not be able to implement some of our more advanced ideas. (See how you can take interactivity to the next level with Airmeet AX360.)
  • The goal of the event – Networking should feel like a natural extension of your event—not something you’re forcing onto everyone. Make sure that the ideas you choose match the purpose of each event, whether that’s knowledge transfer, team building, community building, or something else. 

Now, onto our best virtual networking ideas!

Virtual networking ideas that work great for any event 

These concepts are a great fit for all sorts of meetings and virtual networking events.

1. Breakout rooms with icebreakers

This idea is simple and easy to implement. Breakout your attendees into groups of 3 to 5 people and offer icebreaker questions or prompts. For example, you might ask everyone to share what they want to learn from the event, a piece of inspiration they live by, or (for laughs) the worst advice they’ve ever received. 

2. Social Lounges for virtual networking events

Social Lounges are virtual event spaces that feel like informal table chats. For virtual conferences with lots of activities and sessions, you can have Social Lounges available the entire time. Whereas for webinars they’re typically best offered before or after the main content. A dedicated space like a Social Lounge might be the key to a successful virtual networking event.

3. Proximity-based networking rooms

Why not gather people together virtually based on proximity? After all, that’s how conversations flow at large conferences. 

With Airmeet, you can create what we call Fluid Spaces, which mimic the way that people walk around a room. Attendees can move their digital avatar around the Fluid Space, and then the proximity-triggered algorithm will automatically place nearby people in the same networking room. People can join different conversations in a fluid manner.

And with our megaphone feature, you can announce upcoming sessions or offer icebreaker prompts and ideas.

4. Virtual speed networking event

Speed networking is the backbone of any virtual networking event. It is so effective because the lightning-fast format adds an element of fun that puts everyone at ease.

You can host a dedicated speed networking events or sprinkle some speed networking sessions throughout your conference schedule. 

To manage speed networking with Airmeet, all you have to do is setup a Social Lounge and choose the time duration for the speed networking feature. We recommend 2 to 5 minutes per session. And make sure to have dedicated time slots for speed networking so you ensure enough people are available to participate. 

5. Interest tags

Interest tags can help people strike up conversations with event attendees that share similar interests. With Airmeet, you can add custom interest tags based on your company, industry, or event topic. Each attendee can select the ones they like. Then, throughout your virtual event, people will be able to see others’ interest tags and will be able to use this information to choose their connections.

6. Two truths and a lie

Two truths and a lie is a simple icebreaker that offers a great way to kickstart networking. Break everyone out into small groups or Social Lounges and encourage them to share their two truths and one lie. Then have participants guess which statement is the lie. It’s so fun that it should definitely reserve a spot in your list of networking event ideas 

7. Open up the event chat early 

One of the easiest ways to facilitate virtual networking is to open up the event chat before the event, instead of right at the beginning. We suggest opening it 30 to 60 minutes before your event. Make sure to prepare some icebreaker questions ahead of time to get the chat flowing.

8. Host a GIF war in the chat

Play to your strengths with the idea that only works for online events and can’t be replicated offline. Host a GIF war in the chat by encouraging everyone to post their all-time favorite GIF. Or ask a question and tell people to answer it with a GIF. This will get everyone interacting before or during your event.

9. Would you rather

You can also play a game of would you rather. This is one of the most fun virtual networking ideas because it encourages everyone to use their imaginations and share their opinions. Theme your question to your audience or the event. For instance, if the event is about yoga, ask if people would rather go on a yoga retreat for two weeks or have a yoga instructor come to their house every day for a year.

Virtual networking ideas for large groups

Use these networking ideas for virtual events with lots of attendees.

10. Host cooking or crafting classes in smaller groups

Cooking and crafting classes are popular at virtual events. You can ship out the materials ahead of time and engage everyone in a fun activity, be it cookie baking or candle making. 

But with large groups, it can be hard for people to interact with each other. Try breaking up the same concept into smaller groups. So, a company of 50 people might all be creating the same craft, but in 10 different breakout rooms. This way, there are only 5 different people in each room, and it’s much easier to comment on each others’ silly creations. You can have everyone watch a simple tutorial together before they get started.

11. Virtual escape room competition

Provide networking opportunities by having people collaborate in teams to solve a problem. Whoever can escape the virtual room the fastest will win a prize. To manage virtual escape rooms, try a company like Let’s Roam or Escapely.

12. Silly team hats or accessories

Questions and prompts aren’t the only ways to break the ice. Props work great too. Ship out silly hats, masks, mustaches, or other party accessories before your event, or give everyone a theme to shop for themselves. This idea can help lighten the mood and kickstart conversation. Plus, it works great in tandem with the other virtual event networking ideas on our list. 

13. Virtual tea parties

Almost everyone has some sort of tea in their cupboard. Host a networking session with breakout rooms where everyone brews a cup of their favorite tea. Kickstart the conversation by sharing what type you chose. You can also ship out elegant or eccentric hats, cups, and other accouterments before the event.

Virtual networking ideas for communities

Virtual meetups can serve as a form of community-building. But to help your community establish deeper connections with each other, you’ll need to strategically facilitate virtual networking opportunities. 

Try these ideas that are perfect for communities of any kind.

14. Small-group AMAs

Ask me anything (AMA) sessions are popular event formats, but they can work for networking sessions too. Break out attendees into virtual spaces of 3 to 5 people. Have everyone share what they’re an expert on (something that’s relevant to the event topic or community at large). Then take turns asking questions and sharing hard-earned advice.

15. Live forums

Many communities have some type of forum where people can answer each others’ questions. Why not bring this format to the virtual stage? 

Try creating themed breakout rooms on specific pain points or problems. Then, people can join the session that most interests them. 

16. Pre-event live chat with replies and emoji reactions 

If you’re hosting a virtual event for a large community and are looking for a simple networking idea, try making your chat more interactive. Open up the chat at least 30 minutes before the event (and promote this to your audience). Make sure your virtual event platform offers replies and emoji reactions in the chat to make things more interactive. 

17. Breakout rooms for introductions

Most likely, people in your community want to get to know each other. Make this easier for them by hosting breakout sessions designed for simple introductions.

Adapt this example prompt for your unique audience:

  • Share your name, team, job title, and how long you’ve been in the company.
  • List your top 3 skills.
  • Share who you’re hoping to meet or what you want to learn from the event.

Virtual networking ideas for internal company meetings and kickoffs

Need to get everyone in a collaborative mood? Use these virtual professional networking ideas to engage your audience.

18. Mini hackathons

Try hosting a mini hackathon. Come up with a problem that needs to be solved and break everyone out into groups to come up with different solutions. Depending on how technical your audience is, they could actually code a rough prototype or sketch it out. Offer a prize to the winning team. 

19. Guess Who (colleague edition)

Guess Who is a popular childrens’ board game, but the concept can be easily adapted for professional audiences. You’ll need a team moderator to make it happen. Have everyone provide clues about themselves to the moderator, who will then share these with the group at large. 

Depending on the size of your virtual group, you can have people guess aloud or in the chat. Track who guesses correctly first and give a prize to the person with the most wins. 

20. Company trivia

Come up with a mix of easy and difficult trivia questions about your company and posit them to your team. To adapt this idea for large events, make sure to use breakout rooms, so people have a chance to interact with each other better. You could make those breakout rooms competitive, or have people collaborate as teams within the rooms to try and get more right answers than any other team. 

21. Planned one-on-ones for strategic intros

If you’re hosting an important company event and you want to make sure that the right people get a chance to interact, you should coordinate meetups. Have one of your event coordinators play matchmaker. They could matchup people from different teams that need to forge relationships (such as content marketers and sales executives). Then, tell people who they’re supposed to be chatting with during networking opportunities, or setup the conference room links for each pair.

22. Finger food and cocktails to set the mood

Food and drinks are always a great way to get people talking. Not only do they set the tone, but they also give people ideas for small talk. People can chat about their favorite items. 

Ship out the goods in advance, give your team a gift card to buy what they need, or reimburse them for their own purchases. Make sure to encourage people to purchase finger foods or appetizers. (Eating a hamburger or taco while trying to chat virtually won’t work.)

If you’re providing the items, be sure to ask your team about any preferences for non-alcoholic beverages or food restrictions. 

Virtual networking ideas for business events 

Whether you’re hosting a large virtual conference or a special event for your target accounts as part of your ABM strategy, these ideas will help you provide networking opportunities.

23. Small fireside chats

In the business world, people want to spend time with people they can learn from. Invite business leaders and niche experts to host intimate fireside chats. Small room sizes will make it easier for people to have more authentic and engaging conversations. 

24. Self-led sessions with 6 participants max

Convert any event topic into a virtual networking session by letting participants host it themselves. For instance, let’s say you have 3 different networking session topics (revenue operations team structure, churn analysis, and business alignment). For each of these session categories, provide several different time slots to ensure that people can book the sessions they want while still keeping the room sessions small. Then, have everyone chat about that topic and share their best advice.

25. Chat questions that kickstart networking

Let’s say you’ll be hosting Fluid Spaces or Social Lounges right after a speaker’s session. You could help people identify who they want to interact with the most by having everyone answer a question in the chat. For instance, you might ask people to share their number one weakness, pain point, or question as well as their number one strength or skill. Then encourage people to read the chat responses and find someone whose responses aligns with their own.

26. Small wine tasting sessions

Wine tasting is a popular networking tool during in-person business meetings, and it works great virtually too. As part of your event, host breakout rooms where everyone can taste the different wines that you’ve shipped to them beforehand. Make sure an event coordinator is available in each room to guide everyone through the tasting experience. 

27. Facilitated matchups based on interests

Above, we mentioned interest tags as a great way for everyone to reveal to each other what they care about most. To make online networking even easier for your audience, you could use these tags to assemble people into groups, breakout rooms, or one-on-one conversations based on their interests. Because you’ll have to do the coordinating, this idea is probably best for business events of 50 people or fewer. Keep in mind that you can do the matchmaking while participants are attending a session. 

How to choose a virtual events platform designed for networking

To help you manage these virtual networking event ideas, you need the right tools.

With a virtual event platform designed for connectivity, you can easily create bespoke virtual networking sessions.

Airmeet comes equipped with:

  • Chat replies and emoji reactions
  • Breakout rooms
  • Social Lounges
  • Fluid Spaces
  • Speed networking
  • Exchangeable profile cards
  • Interest tags 
  • Ability to host trivia, polls, and Q&A

Connect meeting attendees together in meaningful ways with our virtual networking platform, AX360.

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