What is a Virtual Networking Event?
What is a Virtual Networking Event?
A virtual networking event is a gathering among people that share a virtual environment rather than meeting in a physical location with the intention of networking and cultivating professional relationships. While there are a number of key differences between in-person, and virtual networking events, the main premise remains the same. These interactions are meant to form connections and build personal or working relationships.
Virtual events do not need to be complicated, but they must be planned meticulously and be supported by the appropriate technology in order to be successful. There are a number of platforms that are commonly used to host virtual networking events however, these platforms often present hurdles, and roadblocks. Zoom is ideal for basic interactions among team members, but it wasn’t created for networking events.
Why Host a Virtual Networking Event?
Virtual events allow users to interact with organizations, colleagues, or peers from the comfort of their own home, office, coworking space, or coffee shop. These interactions are made possible through video conferencing software or meeting tools that were designed specifically for these types of interactions like Remo. Unlike in-person events, virtual events are highly interactive and inclusive. Virtually anyone can join, and the possibilities for engagement are endless. Virtual event hosts and facilitators can leverage polls, live chats, video resources, and so much more so attendees can engage fully and get the most out of your event.
The benefits of hosting virtual networking events include:
- Quick and easy to set up.
- Low cost setup and high return.
- Opportunity to collect feedback and make iterations.
- Opportunity to measure engagement on an individual basis.
- Saves time and money for guests that may be vastly distributed.
- Opportunity to measure and communicate value based on how many guests have created meaningful relationships with each other.
How to Host a Virtual networking Event
- Determine your why
Before you can host a successful virtual networking event, you must determine your goal. Mapping out your end goal upfront will ensure you know exactly what you’re working towards. When identifying your goal, it’s important to determine what success looks like to stakeholders. Are they most interested in nurturing leads or are they more interested in the number of guests they have successfully networked with? Understanding what metrics are the most important to stakeholders will help you plan a virtual networking event that leaves guests feeling satisfied with their experience.
Having a clear purpose will also help you plan your event from the ground up. As the host or facilitator, these insights will help you determine the event's audience, structure, and necessary components. A clear purpose may also encourage more attendees to enroll as they will have a clearer understanding of how they will benefit personally or professionally from the event.
- Choose a virtual event platform
When choosing a platform to host a virtual networking event, many event hosts often make the mistake of choosing a more well-known platform that wasn’t designed for virtual networking. Oftentimes platforms like Zoom are chosen simply because they are more familiar, not because they have the features necessary to host engaging virtual networking events. When choosing your platform, it's best to opt for a tool that was designed with these events in mind. Features to look out for include having the ability to create intimate interactions at small tables, having access to collaborative tools like whiteboards, having the ability to connect beyond the platform with features like profile cards, and having the ability to seamlessly move from floor mode to webinar mode. Each one of these features are crucial when hosting an effective virtual networking event.
- Determine the size of your virtual networking event
Virtual networking events come with limitations, with one of the main being size. While virtual networking events tend to garner large crowds due to their accessibility, it’s important to be cognizant of how many guests will be attending. Ensuring that an adequate number of guests attend is a must however it's equally as important to make sure that you don’t invite too many to handle. You must ensure your moderator is prepared for the number of anticipated guests and you must also ensure the technology you’ve chosen can accommodate all attendees.
- Identify and implement your lead magnet
Hosting a stellar virtual networking event is one thing but capturing leads is another. If you’ve taken the time to create an environment that brings people together, it’s important that you capitalize on the opportunity by retaining their information or encouraging them to take the next step like signing up for the next event. Identifying your ideal persona, your value propositions, and your type of lead magnet will make it possible for you to create a lead magnet that appeals to your audience. Remember, your lead magnet can be a guide or report, a cheat sheet or handout, or even a resource list. What’s most important is finding something of value to your audience and using it to capture leads. In this case, a lead magnet for your event could simply be prompting attendees to provide their contact information in exchange for a recording of the event.
- Select a moderator or speaker
How many times have you joined a virtual event to be greeted by silence? During this scenario, one of two things happen. A few meeting attendees may choose to start the conversation and ultimately monopolize it, leaving other guests out of the conversation, or awkward silence will prevail, and guests may begin to leave the event. Choosing a moderator for your virtual networking event will ensure guests are met with a warm welcome, as opposed to awkward silence.
Moderated discussions are great if you wish to provide your guests with more freedom. Creating an immersive online environment that empowers attendees to connect and chat among themselves is an excellent way to foster genuine connections. To make sure the event runs smoothly, a moderator can remain present, and be prepared to guide the conversation or answer any questions that may arise.
- Create an agenda
A comprehensive agenda will provide you as the virtual networking event host or facilitator with a framework for success. Your agenda should account for all phases of the event including an introduction to guests, event format specifics, and closing remarks. In addition to providing you with a framework to run your virtual event, an agenda will also provide guests with the information they need in order to adequately prepare for the event.
Virtual Networking Event Formats
- World café
The world café method leverages an informal café setting where participants can chat among themselves and explore an issue or predefined subject matter by conversing in small table groups. Discussions are normally held for 20-30 minutes, and the café atmosphere is used to relax participants and encourage natural interactions. In a virtual setting, this event format can be used by leveraging a virtual event platform like Remo that makes it possible for you to create a meeting atmosphere that mimics your favorite coffee shop.
- Virtual speed networking
Virtual speed networking is a great way to get breakout session attendees out of their comfort zones. This format is an excellent tool to use if attendees may be unfamiliar with each other or if they simply haven’t gotten the chance to connect in the past. As the facilitator, moderator, or host, it will be your responsibility to set up an atmosphere that enables speed networking. It is also important to create a list of questions that guests can use to kick off their interactions. Speed networking means guests will only have a limited time to get to know each other. Equipping guests with a list of questions will ensure they can get started and hit the ground running as soon as you start the timer!
Sample questions include:
- What’s your favorite dish to cook?
- What are you most passionate about?
- What motivates you to go to work every day?
- If you could do anything tomorrow what would it be?
- What new hobby did you pick up during the pandemic?
- Can you tell me about an exciting project you worked on recently?
- Where do you work and what is the most exciting part of your role?
- Round table discussions
Round table discussions are a great virtual networking event format for those that are looking to advance their knowledge by communicating or learning from their peers. Roundtable discussions usually include smaller groups to allow for more intimate conversations. To host an effective roundtable discussion, you may want to consider hand selecting each table. This will ensure that event participants are grouped together based on common goals, interests, or aspirations.
- Trade Fairs
Trade fairs are large-scale networking events that are meant to bring together a group of businesses that wish to showcase their latest products or offerings. Trade fairs give event participants the opportunity to explore new products or learn more about a business while simultaneously providing businesses with the opportunity to increase brand awareness, build meaningful connections, learn about industry trends, and promote their products or services.
- Mentor-mentee dating
Mentor-mentee dating is exactly what it sounds like! This virtual networking event caters to two groups of people. The first group are budding professionals that are eager to level up in their careers and the second group are experienced professionals that are eager to share their knowledge and meet mentees. When leveraging a mentor-mentee format, it's best to pair individuals based on compatibility. Doing so will ensure the relationship is mutually beneficial.
How to Take Your Virtual Networking Event to the Next Level
- Invite a VIP Speaker
Inviting a VIP speaker to your virtual networking event is a great way to take your event to the next level. In addition to networking and making new connections, guests will also have the opportunity to learn from an industry expert or thought leader. Guests may even be more inclined to share your event on social media or spread the work about future events if you provide additional value.
- Host a Virtual Happy Hour
This simple tactic is an excellent way to mimic an in-person interaction. Instead of meeting at a bar after a conference, you can wrap up your virtual networking event by encouraging guests to share a cocktail, mocktail, or even a cup of coffee! Bonus points if you provide a stipend or coupon that attendees can redeem during the event. With Remo, you can recreate your favorite restaurant or lounge for added effect! What’s most important Is encouraging guests to chat, and connect in a laid back, less-formal environment that fosters genuine human-to-human interactions.
- Choose a theme for your event
Hosting engaging virtual networking events can be challenging which is why it’s important to get creative. Choosing a theme for your event is a great way to spice things up while keeping guests engaged!Choosing a meaningful concept or theme to streamline through your event will help you direct your planning, help keep messaging on track, help drive audience engagement and help you deliver on your business objectives.
Are you hosting a virtual networking event for professionals in the Travel and Tourism industry? Theme your event around a beautiful destination by creating a custom floor plan that transforms guests to a stunning landscape on the other side of the world! Are you an educational facility that is eager to attract new students? Create a floor plan that mimics your campus and give attendees a taste of student life!
You can choose from over 90 FREE templates on Remo or create your very own custom environment that is unique to your event. If you need a helping hand, you can hire a professional or contact our Customer Success team for support! You can recreate a stunning beach in Hawaii, your campus, or even a cozy coffee shop! Click here to learn more about creating custom floor plans for your virtual networking event.
- Leverage Breakout Rooms
Designed to break down a large group of guests into smaller more manageable groups, breakout rooms are an excellent way to foster more meaningful connections among virtual event attendees. Breaking off into smaller groups gives guests the opportunity to get to know other guests on a more intimate level. To kick things off, provide guests with a list of questions prior to the networking event. This way they can come prepared to have meaningful conversations. At the end of the event, you can gather attendees in a larger group and encourage them to share insights or updates. Click here to learn how to supercharge your breakout experiences!
Choose the Perfect Virtual Networking Tool
Remo is an all-in-one immersive platform that was built to bring people together online. With Remo, you can create online networking events that are just as engaging as in-person interactions. For the first time ever, you can use an online tool to mimic in-person interactions like walking around, meeting in a fun environment with one of Remo’s custom floor plans, or simply making new life-long connections. Built with connectivity in mind, Remo is the premier choice for virtual networking events.
If you’re planning a virtual networking event and want a platform that will help you create exceptional experiences for each one of your guests, Remo is for you. Key features include:
- Custom floor plans so you can create a unique atmosphere that attendees will love.
- Custom table sizes so you can create the perfect atmosphere for formats big and small.
- Profile cards so you can streamline connecting and guests can get to know each other beyond the event.
- Secure and lockable whiteboards so guests can brainstorm during the event, and you can protect your information.
Interested in optimizing your virtual experiences? Get started with your FREE TRIAL today or click here to learn more about how Remo can help you create the best possible experience for your guests.