10 Engaging Virtual Event Networking Ideas
Nov 3, 20226 min read
We are all aware of how challenging it can be to build relationships with strangers, especially when you are not even in the same room. Traditional networking methods are becoming increasingly challenging to apply due to the growing popularity of virtual events, so organizers must use all of their creativity to ensure that virtual event networking between attendees is at least as strong as it is at physical events.
Why are virtual events important?
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, professionals from various industries have increased their use of virtual events. Even after the pandemic, virtual events have maintained their popularity because of their practicality. They are a valuable addition to live, in-person events for meeting new contacts or maintaining and expanding your network. Connecting participants over the Internet provides instant interactions, as well as a virtual space to conduct business, share ideas and discuss topics to help foster relationships between team members in distant offices at their own schedules.
What are the advantages of virtual events?
As online networking technology advances, so do the many opportunities for interaction. Virtual events are a step forward in meeting people and building relationships, as they take advantage of modern communication technologies to bring people together in new ways. Virtual event networking has several advantages over in-person event networking.
For example, they allow you to reach out to thousands of people at once, which is unlike physical events where you are limited by the space available and therefore limited in terms of attendees. As long as they have a computer, Internet connection and a web camera, you can organise virtual events your attendees will easily participate in. With this kind of ease and flexibility, it’s no wonder that they continously gain popularity.
As stated above, virtual events pose a challenge to traditional ways of networking which makes organizers in need of ideas for new ways of bettering event networking. Here is a list of 10 engaging virtual networking ideas:
1. Pre-event live chat
A virtual communication tool such as chat can increase online event engagement throughout the entire event. Attendees can introduce themselves and begin networking before the event even starts. With a chat platform, the organizer has more influence over the direction of the discourse. With the b2match built-in chat feature, participants can easily engage in meaningful conversations.
2. Host a virtual happy hour
If you enjoy a delicious drink – alcoholic or not – try a virtual happy hour! Gather your attendees for informal conversations and networking over drinks to replicate the physical bar or lounge experience online.
We advise using the Wonder.me virtual workspace for a more engaging experience. Wonder.me is a virtual room where attendees can “meet“ and communicate via speech or video chat which you can easily integrate into your virtual event on the b2match platform.
3. Organize roundtables
One of the effective strategies to increase your virtual event engagement is to create a roundtable. To create one, attendees are divided into groups of four or five and distributed among different break-out rooms in the form of group meetings on the b2match event networking platform. These gatherings are a highly successful technique to encourage interaction, collaboration, and idea-sharing among attendees. It lessens the need for users to repeatedly disclose their personal information one-on-one by enabling them to meet more people at once. A successful roundtable, however, necessitates careful consideration regarding whom to put in each group.
4. Use an AI-powered event networking app
This is where an AI-powered virtual event networking platform comes in handy. AI event networking connects attendees with similar interests which shortens the time and effort needed to connect attendees with the right people at your event. The b2match platform uses actual machine learning algorithms to provide recommendations of the best networking matches for each attendee by collecting real data, like the behaviour and interests of a participant.
5. Engage attendees on social media
Social media plays a significant role in online matchmaking, and you may use it to include attendees and assist them in expanding their networks. Encourage attendees to post on social media about their event experiences by creating hashtags they can use in their posts. Engage everyone who shares a post or leaves a comment to take it a step further. Attendees can follow, connect with, or add other attendees as friends on social media since it also offers a way to make contacts, which can promote long-lasting partnerships.
Walls.io is an all-in-one social wall solution that allows you to gather, curate, and display content in an easy-to-customize feed. You can collect content from multiple social media platforms or have your audience post content directly to your wall. You can add your own posts to the feed, creating a nice mix of content created by your audience and content your brand or organization wishes to share. With the integration of Walls.io, b2match provides its clients with advanced platform experience and increased engagement at any type of online event.
6. Ice breaker games
Hosting a business networking event doesn't have to be boring. Attending a networking event can be nerve-wracking and intimidating for many people. It's a great idea to include interactive games to help break the ice at the very beginning. It eases the pressure and creates a casual, enjoyable environment for people to get to know one another better. Overall, it makes the whole experience more human.
To break the ice and encourage self-expression, you may offer an activity like Kahoot quizzes.
7. Award prizes for attendees who participated
Games are only worthwhile with rewards, right? Even though you can't reward everyone who took part, you can give out prizes to the people who have the most networking points at the top of the leaderboard. Depending on the scale of your event, that can be the top five, ten, twenty, or fifty. Rewards depending on attendee categories are yet another option. This is also an excellent way to increase sponsorship exposure by offering prizes in collaboration with sponsors.
8. Invite a VIP speaker
One of the most important people during an event is the person holding the microphone. By inviting an expert in the field to provide the keynote speech, the attendees become more engaged in the event. Attendees have the opportunity to discover more about a professional's experience in the industry or the company they manage or represent.
This keynote can serve as a springboard for your networking session and encourage debate as attendees get to know one another at your event.
9. Add captions
Accessibility is a crucial aspect that any virtual event should offer. Adding captions when events are being broadcast live is one approach to make them more comprehensible and accessible electronically. These are essential for those who require them in order to participate, including deaf or hard-of-hearing users, as well as for those who like to watch videos with captions. It has been proven that captions improve information retention and viewer engagement.
10. Make events fun with gamification!
To create a more enjoyable experience for your participants, you can implement some gamification ideas into your event. For example, a good idea might be to organize scavenger hunts. In a scavenger hunt, you give your event participants a list of tasks to complete during the event. You can hide clues in your agenda or in your speakers profiles that the participants must gather to reveal the final answer and get a prize.
For some, there might be a stigma attached to using a virtual event networking tool, as opposed to a physical one, as if you're somehow not "connected" if you're participating in an online environment.
But the fact of the matter is that virtual engagement tools have advanced to the point where virtual events are now a viable and cost-effective option for many businesses. In some instances—especially when logistics may come into play—virtual networking events might make more sense than live ones. So consider taking advantage of them in the future; you never know what opportunities might arise as a result.
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