Virtual networking is now considered the best alternative to mainstream in-person professional gatherings. With a virtual platform, you can host networking events online all year long. Diminishing the need to travel, online events gather global industry professionals from around the world and facilitate them with tons of networking opportunities. Overall, it brings innovative solutions for B2B and B2C communications and dealings.
With a virtual representation, your exhibitors get to interact and engage with attendees using user-friendly chat and meeting options. However, engaging a large number of audience at once could be challenging. You would need complete support and direction to indulge the attendees in a fun and exciting event. If you are an event organizer within the business field, then here are some takeaways for you to create an engaging environment for your online networking events.
Also, explore why businesses need to host virtual networking events.
Tips for Hosting Engaging Networking Events Online
Your audience is joining the event online from the comfort of their homes. So it is important that you create a real-life environment where face-to-face human interaction is made worthwhile. Obviously, you do not want the audience to feel distracted or bored. So, how would you create an engaging networking environment?
In order to host successful networking events online, you need to carefully plan and execute strategies that would work well for your audience. Make sure you carry out an effective plan with activities that build attendee interest and encourage active participation. Here are some proven tips for hosting engaging virtual networking events.
3D Immersive Environment
Your virtual venue is the first encounter for the audience. From the landing page to the exhibition halls, it is the immersive environment that hooks the audience’s attention. For instance, the entire space is studded with guided buttons. This helps attendees easily click their way through the virtual space and enjoy the user-friendly platform. Basically, your audience feels connected and engaged within the platform and networks with everyone with ease.
Today, virtual platforms allow exhibitors to use 3D animated company representative avatars to attend to clients personally. This enables exhibitors and clients to network in real-time and builds long-term business relationships. Overall, the virtual environment is made engaging with:
- 3D-designed virtual landing page, halls and lobbies
- Replicas of real-life venues to immerse attendees
- Diverse animated avatars installed to crowd the space
- Complete branding of each exhibitor booth
- Attractive graphics and visuals hook the audience’s attention
- Screens and standees installed to educate and inform
Unlike physical events, online human interaction is a bit challenging. Some people are shy to initiate conversations, and others simply mind their business. This entirely kills the very purpose of your networking event. Therefore, a breezy introduction of everyone onboard is a great idea to start up. This works as an icebreaker and encourages everyone to communicate and participates throughout the event. In fact, it is the responsibility of the host or moderator to make sure that everyone introduces themselves to each other.
For beginners, here are some starters on breezy introductions at the virtual networking fairs.
- Ask everyone to share their nicknames
- Let attendees share their educational background
- Allow attendees to represent themselves through an avatar
- Ask them to share their favourite ice cream flavour
- Let them tell the group about their career goals
A virtual events platform makes attendee networking easier with embedded live chat. Here, participants easily engage in 1:1 or group discussions using the embedded chat options. For instance, attendees can directly engage in conversations with the exhibitors at the exhibitor booths. In the case of webinars, attendees get a chance to participate in live chat with others. Also, live Q&A sessions help attendees ask any questions they might have, and speakers/hosts attend to each query.
These chatbots are available at each step. From the landing page to the entrance, reception, and exhibitor halls to webinar rooms, attendees easily strike up conversations. Also, there are separate chatrooms live throughout the event. With chat happening in real-time, everyone gets the chance to network and engage with each other. As a result, everyone onboard feels included and engaged within the networking fair.
Setting up roundtables is an effective way to encourage engagement among attendees. Instead of 1:1 conversations, a roundtable discussion accommodates 4 to 5 people at once. It allows group members to discuss ideas, share insights, make analyses and work collaboratively throughout the networking event. In fact, like-minded individuals join in discussions that interest them most, and this overall serves the purpose of networking.
Fortunately, virtual platforms allow you to filter people based on their backgrounds and interests, which eases the process of group roundtable sessions for the audience. Like, for instance, you can use separate breakout rooms for each group. These group meetings are the soul of any networking event, be it among business professionals or educational alumni. Overall, a virtual roundtable discussion supports the following:
- 1:1 interaction among likeminded
- Confidential discussions among chairpersons
- Flexible and convenient for data sharing
- Saves the need for travel for meetings
- Environmental approach to global networking
- Company rep avatars for an immersive experience
Also check 7 ideas for setting up virtual roundtables.
Keynote Speaker Sessions
Keynote speaker sessions are the highlight of your networking event. With a virtual presence, you get to invite remote speakers to show up and address their respective sessions. It is a plus for the speakers residing at remote locations as they need not travel and can easily join the sessions from the comfort of their place. It eventually saves them time and money.
To spice up your attendee experience, you can also schedule some fun comedy speaker sessions. Nowadays, standup comedians are readily available to address an online audience. This, in return, would lighten the mood of an event. The formal speaker sessions are usually arranged within the workshops, webinars or seminars the majority attend. In addition, the live chatbots further allow everyone to engage in healthy discussions about the subject matter.
It is essential that your speakers inspire and motivate professionals in the field to take a leap of faith and begin their journey. Learning from someone’s experience or advice is the best way to go forward in the career.
Social Media Integration
Today, social media is considered the easiest way to connect and network with peers around the world. By integrating social media channels, you expand the scope of live networking. Your attendees openly engage with peers and professionals from around the world. Be it a conference, trade show, exhibition, workshop or career fair, you can get an online audience to participate in discussions. This way, people outside of the community get to voice their opinions and might as well help build strong connections. Also, it encourages participants to follow, befriend or connect with people that share their interests.
By far, social media has truly benefitted organizations by winning them global leads and business opportunities. Online interaction does wonders when done right. So the more you post about your event, the more people are attracted to the fair. You can also get your attendees to share the event and open their comment sections to facilitate communications. Especially getting people to share and interact with your content is the real deal.
Live Alerts and Notifications
In order to keep your attendees on their toes throughout the event, virtual platforms have devised live alerts and notifications. These alerts inform attendees about the ongoing sessions, discussions and meetings. It ensures that attendees do not miss out on any chance for networking.
Virtual Happy Hour
When hosting networking events online, make sure you do not bore the audience. Formal discussions and meetings might cause burnout. So to freshen up, virtual happy hour is employed. This way, you allow attendees to use their happy hour time to take a sip of coffee and engage in casual conversations with peers. Some might want to grab a drink and discuss life in general. So, a happy hour is their chance to relax and rejoice.
If, however, you wish to transform the happy hour into a series of fun segments, that is your choice. For instance, you can get attendees to participate in live games, open discussions about a film, share life secrets, or listen to life stories. After all, the aim is to ease people into conversing with each other and if happy hours is what it takes, then sure.
Incentives and Awards
During the event, you might want to inculcate some motivation and enthusiasm in the attendees. For that matter, awards and incentives are offered to attendees for their active participation in the event. Here’s a list of incentives and awards you can offer to an online audience.
- Virtual gift cards
- Travel incentive
- Awards & Prizes
- Membership cards
Remember, when hosting networking events online, be sure to create an extraordinary engagement experience. It would take a great deal of effort to engage an audience that is participating from their laptop screens. Like, from virtual roundtables to happy hour, make sure there are tons of opportunities for the audience to mingle and connect with each other. So employ tons of networking tools and activities to immerse and engage the audience in building professional relationships. Follow the tip mentioned above and begin planning a successful networking fair.
If you want to create an impactful virtual networking event, then try Virtual Days. In our 3D animated virtual space, you allow attendees to network easily without travelling down to a physical location.