2020 has fundamentally changed the way we all think about virtual events, virtual conferences, and virtual conference networking for the better. The idea of “let’s link up” or “let’s get together” has shifted dramatically. Prior limitations of time, space, and finances have been completely revolutionized.
It’s exciting news that boundaries are shifting, or in some cases completely disappearing, but the question becomes, how do I take advantage of these new horizons? Or more specifically, how do I make the most of networking at virtual events?
We provide a guide for how to take advantage of all of the networking opportunities that online platforms provide, how to network at a virtual event, and virtual conference networking ideas.
16 Virtual Networking Ideas To Take Advantage of Your Next Online Conference or Event
Tip #1) Take Advantage of Registration by Creating An Account With All of Your Important Information
Make sure all of your contact information and social media handles are readily available across platforms.
The idea of connectivity starts with you making sure that all of your information is connected and ready for your networking prospects to be able to reach you.
Tip #2) Take Advantage of the List of Attendees on the Event App or Platform
You’re not the only one looking for virtual conference networking opportunities. Check the attendees list to see if there are potential contacts that would be of particular interest to you. Using this list can give you a chance to review who you may want to mingle with and how best to connect with them.
Tip #3) Hone in on the Primary Connections You Want to Make
Ahead of the event, you can learn about the other event guests and determine some priority people you want to network with. Make note of who they are, research their professional backgrounds and determine why it should be a priority for you to connect with them.
Tip #4) Make a List of Networking Goals
Do you have a clear idea of your networking goals prior to the event? If this is your first time attempting virtual conference networking, get some clarity first.
Establish what kind of people you’re trying to meet. Is there a certain area of expertise or skill set you are trying to connect with? How many connections are you trying to make?
Especially if this is new, start with a modest goal and then challenge yourself to meet and then exceed it. Once you’ve established general goals and expectations for yourself envision what a successful encounter would look like.
Tip #5) Use Social Media To Signal Your Attendance Before the Event
You already have a social media account. Make it work for you. Mention your attendance at the event on your social media feeds. If you have a personal website or blog, use that platform as well.
This signals to others in your network that you’re attending this event and to look for you. Sometimes a connection you already have leads you to the connection that you needed to make.
Tip #6) Be Intentional About the Time You Dedicate to the Event
To get the most out of the event you’re attending, set aside the proper time to dedicate to it. Avoid multitasking during the event and give yourself plenty of buffer time between the event and other tasks or obligations.
Giving your full focus will allow you to be more engaged and to get more value from the experience, making it easier to genuinely connect with others.
Tip #7) Do It Live
Engage meaningfully during the event. Post live comments or share ideas and information in real time as the event is happening.
This demonstrates your interest in the topic and shows that you’re not just reaching out to people as a sales or marketing tactic. You care about the topics being covered at the event.
Tip #8) Participate in the Comments and Questions Section of Each Presentation You Attend
People are frequently hesitant or reluctant to jump in on discussion topics during comments and questions segments. Don’t be a wallflower. Ask serious questions and when appropriate answer questions if you’re able.
Being able to provide insight or information helps to get your name recognized at events. For example, if you know the answer to someone else’s question before the speaker can answer – give a thoughtful response. You might get a mention and the person you helped will appreciate it
Tip #9) Participate in Any Extracurricular Games or Side Events that are Offered
Come on, get happy! Enjoy the virtual happy hours, incentivized activities, and games. These are a great way to create a fun and meaningful connection while still getting your work done.
It’s a way to forge a connection while removing the pressure of small talk. A shared laugh or positive experience is a way for people to fondly remember you from a virtual event.
Tip #10) Create Insightful Content To Share As A Networking Tool at Virtual Events
One of the best networking strategies is to give more than you take. Preparing infographics, compiling resources you’ve found helpful, and having branded content available to share with others is always helpful.
Share relevant article links highlighting information or going into more depth on a topic. But be wise with your sharing. You want to contribute, not overwhelm or dominate a conversation.
Tip #11) Register to Be a Speaker At The Event
Sharing your expertise and experience at a conference is one of the fastest and most effective ways to gain exposure at an event.
Nothing makes you more attractive to other networkers than being the expert in the room and speaking in front of hundreds or even thousands of other event attendees.
Speaking at a conference not only highlights you as an individual but also shines a light on your organization, showing what kinds of innovative work is being done.
Tip #12) Participate in Matchmaking Services Prior to the Online Event
You’re doing the work to ensure that this is a positive networking experience but there may be people that you miss or wouldn’t have reached.
Take advantage of automated matchmaking services that are provided. Make information readily available about what type of networking you’re interested in so that it’s easier for others to connect with you.
Tip #13) Use Social Media to Continue Connecting After the Event
Post on social media after the event. This lets people know what you were able to take away from the event and shows your engagement to any new contacts you made through virtual networking.
Start with your LinkedIn page, make sure you update your Facebook and Twitter feeds, and don’t forget about Instagram.
If there was any fun swag that you can show, or you’re able to show off how much you enjoyed attending the event, a picture is worth 1000 words. It’s a brief snapshot of your presence and your interest. Use and search hashtags for the event to connect with new people.
Tip #14) Have a Post Event Follow-Up Plan With The People You Networked With
Your virtual conference networking opportunities don’t end when the conference is over. Invite your contact to have coffee over Zoom or invite them to join a Slack conversation. Meeting someone is great but you want to actually maintain that connection over time.
Create a timeline for yourself of when and how you’re going to reach out to people following an event.
Tip #15) Help Others Connect With People They Need in Their Network
Remember the saying, “what goes around, comes around.” Helping other people in your network connect with individuals is a great opportunity to build connections and help with fostering a sense of community.
You may not be the solution to a colleague’s issue but if you are able to introduce them to the person who could be, it goes a long way. It’s also something that people will remember positively about their experience with you, making it more likely that they’ll try to do the same for you at some point down the road.
Tip #16) Host Your Own Event Tailored to Your Networking Needs
Go beyond attending a virtual event to network, and consider hosting your own event where you can tailor the experience to the experience that is most valuable to you and your potential connections.
When you’re ready to go from attending to hosting, we’ve also got:
20 Tips For Hosting A Successful Virtual Networking Event and the best ways to get higher participation for your future events.
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