11 Ways to Facilitate Networking During Virtual Events
By: Beth Barnhart - Conference Managers, Linda Cohen - Sponsorship Boost, Emma Hoover - Conference Managers, Dana Jones - Sponsorship Boost, Nicole Tisdale - Conference Managers
When attendees leave an in-person event with a stack of business cards representing the connections they made, they feel like the event was productive and worthy of their time. So, how do you include this vital event component in your virtual experience? Just because you can’t hold a happy hour in a hotel ballroom doesn’t mean you can’t help people connect. It’s more than possible in the digital world! We’ve generated 11 ideas that you can use to help your audiences engage with the event and each other throughout the virtual event cycle.
Start Building Energy, Buzz, and Connections Before the Virtual Event
Create a welcome video—A video allows attendees to meet the staff in a more personal way. It also gives your attendees a preview of the virtual conference and sets the tone for the conference.
Hold a pre-function coffee break—Give attendees a chance to mingle before sessions start.
Create a music playlist—Build energy as you would when sitting in a live session.
Connect with attendees on social media—Create an event-specific hashtag and a digital backdrop for attendees to take screenshots.
Engagement and Networking during the Virtual Event
During the virtual event, mix in coffee breaks between sessions to encourage attendees to continue networking and add in other fun features such as:
Graphic recording—Provide a recap of the sessions in an aesthetically eye-catching way as well as provide a new way of looking at information virtually.
Q&A with speakers—Give attendees a chance to ask questions during the presentations.
Social media—Post live videos on various social media platforms.
Focus groups—Hold mini break-out sessions that attendees can move through based on the content they want to see.
Gamification—Use games to engage attendees during live sessions. Things that work include trivia and polling, exhibitor QR scavenger hunt/trivia, raffles, and bingo for sessions/general sessions.
Keep Up the Energy After the Event
The fun and engagement does not have to stop when the event ends!
Continue to post videos—Use event videos to create content on various social media platforms.
Host virtual happy hours and theme parties—Keep people connected and engaged to your organization and each other.
Many of these activities are perfect sponsorship opportunities as you seek to monetize your virtual event (stay tuned for more information regarding monetization and profitability in our next post). Right now, you can learn more about organizing your virtual event in our posts on Strategizing Your Virtual or Hybrid Event and Selecting Technology for Your Virtual Event.