As most conferences and events have moved online and are probably going to be hybrid as we move forward, networking can get a little tricky when you’re trying to engage and interact with event attendees through a screen. Networking is one of the main reasons we go to conferences in the first place. Business conferences and other events are a great way to meet industry leaders and interact with peers in your field. As events start changing with in-person and virtual attendees, how do we network to ensure we meet with everyone we wanted to learn from?
While we can’t start up a conversation with the person sitting next to us as virtual attendees, there are many ways to successfully network and get a conversation started when attending a conference virtually.
Unsure about how to network successfully at a virtual event or conference? We've rounded up our top suggestions to successfully network with your peers.
You need to set networking goals and create a plan on how you will network with your peers during the event. This is a great way to ensure that you reach out to everyone on your list and meet your overall networking objectives. A great way to create your networking plan is to research other attendees' profiles. Check attendees out on social media to understand more of their background and how you can have a meaningful conversation. Having these set goals will help you establish what you’re looking for and how you will achieve your connections during the event.
Just like you will be looking up other attendees and speakers, other people will also be trying to look you up as a possible connection. Use this as a chance to flush out your profile with all the necessary information that will help you stand out. This is your time to show off your credibility in the field and how you can establish yourself as a valuable network.
Some ideas include linking your website and social media profiles. Even have your portfolio on there for others to see all your work. Additionally, try to add a picture so attendees will be able to get familiar with who you are before attending the event.
Don’t be shy! Go ahead and introduce yourself to the attendees. You can do this by sharing who you are, a little bit of your background and what you do professionally. Depending on where the conversation goes, talk about your hobbies and other fun elements about yourself. When establishing a connection you need to gauge the ambiance and figure out the tone you want to set for the introduction. This will be great way for people to get comfortable with you and start a conversation at the event.
Speaking of social media, use your platform to share conference news and information. Share your updates on attendance and what you are looking forward to at the event. This could be what speakers you will be listening to or participating in chat rooms. Use event hashtags provided and start a conversation around the event to engage other speakers and attendees.
Remember, you are trying to network and social media can help you create connections before the event even starts! Additionally, make sure to share follow-up posts after the event to continue the conversation even after the event.
Depending on what the event offers, try to participate in the live polls, Q/A and other live chats when you can. Participating in these offerings is an easy way to chat with other attendees, ask questions and stay engaged during the conference. Some events offer leadership boards and the ability to collect points during the event. This is a great way encourage more participation so use this as an opportunity to network.
Make sure to leverage all the networking options to make the most out of the event. If your goal is to meet the most number of people, you need to participate and engage consistently. It's also important that you share updates and information as much as you can to facilitate constant networking throughout the event.
Breakout sessions are another great way to have thoughtful discussions with your group; This is the time to ask important questions after a segment or speaker. Take this session as an opportunity to chat with the guest speakers and also have a meaningful conversation about a topic at these sessions.
Conversations and networking capabilities don’t just stop at the event. To continue to establish your connections further, make sure you follow up (politely) with the people you met at the event and see how you can further help each other with business goals, etc.
Conferences and trade shows are extremely valuable in helping you connect with your peers. You will never know how your connection can help you in your career. From mentorship to job opportunities, networking is of great value and can open many doors.
We hope these tips will help you reach your networking goals where you come out with valuable connections after the event! If you’re new to virtual events, check out how you can make money hosting a virtual event to get inspired to create your own event.