Guide to Hosting A Successful Virtual Networking Event

VIP room at virtual event

Networking is the number one reason that people attend events. Being able to connect with your peers and industry leaders in a meaningful way is what brings people together at conferences and events. With virtual events and experiences taking center stage, virtual networking events are becoming immensely popular and have proven to support physical events by reaching a larger group of people without any geographical barriers. So how do you put on an event where people feel like they are able to connect in a meaningful way online? 

People might find virtual networking events a scary place to strike up a conversation. However, with the right virtual event platform features such as fun games, polls or breakout rooms, you can initiate tons of connections and conversations from your virtual experience.

Guide to Hosting A Successful Virtual Event

If you’re trying to figure out the best way to host successful virtual networking events, the following guide will help you find the inspiration you need to design your next event.

virtual presentation panel

Before the virtual networking event

1. Come up with the overall plan

What are your event goals? What are you looking to achieve from the event? It’s important to sit down and plan the skeleton of the event to understand your overall goals and how you will structure the event. This plan will help you define your customer base, what kind of activities you will have, who the guest speakers will be and what will drive people to the event.

2. Plan the overall design

Take some time to come up with a theme and the branding for the event. People love to be a part of a fun theme and it’s a great way to have your audience engaged from the start! Take this planning phase to figure out how you want the flow of the event to be such as Q/A sessions and breakout rooms for attendees to network in. Additionally, think about your branding and how you want your business to be seen at the event.

3. Choose the right platform

Finding the right platform for your event is extremely important. As you understand your goals and what you need for the event, you need to find the platform that will have all the features that will drive engagement and ensure a smooth event. This could be features like gamification, social media integration, customer support and other networking capabilities.

4. Figure out the logistics

There are so many platforms and apps out there for virtual events. It’s important to figure out the logistics of how you will bring people together. Make sure you test the platform out completely and ensure that attendees are able to seamlessly log in and navigate the platform. You don’t want your attendees to be frustrated with technical difficulties or other issues that can be ironed out before the event goes live. Additionally, try to have a calendar invite with all the information required so everyone will be able to get a reminder and be able to access the event easily.

5. Decide on the guest count

You don’t want to be stuck with a huge guest count where it’s chaotic for your attendees to network with each other. Consider keeping your count to a manageable size. If your group can be segmented, it might be a good idea to break them up depending on the segments. You can do this by creating breakout rooms that are relevant for each group depending on specialties and topics.

6. Market your networking event

Don’t forget to promote your event! Use social media and other marketing channels to get word of your event out there. You can create a social media contest to encourage sharing among attendees and get their help in spreading the word. Depending on your budget you can even send relevant gift bags to further promote your event.

panel discussion at a hybrid event

During the virtual networking event

1. Have an introduction session

Depending on how large your guest list is, it could be a fun idea to have an introductory session where attendees can introduce themselves to each other. This can also happen in breakout rooms or other sessions to facilitate conversation before other events start.

2. Start the conversations (if needed)

It could be a good idea to head to chat rooms or other chat sessions and start a conversation with a question to encourage participation. Sometimes attendees might not want to be the first to say something or they might not know how to start a conversation. You could use this opportunity to create a game or a fun quiz around topics to further encourage conversation.

3. Make sure sessions aren’t drawn out

People have short attention spans. While you might have made sure video broadcasts aren’t too long, you cannot predict what your guest speakers might do. If you feel that topics are getting drawn out or that speakers are going off on a tangent, it could be a good idea to set reminders or have a way to signal them when it’s time for them to wrap up. This will only help make sure the event continues to run smoothly without any delays. 

virtual meeting room

After the virtual networking event

1. Send a thank you note

Make sure to send a thank you note or email after the event to all your attendees. This will help the attendees continue to feel connected and give them the opportunity to provide feedback  after the event. It could be a fun idea to include any highlights from the conference to further gauge attendees’ memories.

2. Gather feedback

When you send your thank you notes, use this as an opportunity to gather feedback for any improvement in the future. You can send out a post-event survey or poll to make it as seamless as possible for people to respond.

3. Analyze the event

Once you gather your reports on engagement and participation, it’s important to analyze this report to see where and what the strong points were of the event and where you could improve. The numbers you get will be extremely telling in understanding your audience further so you can continue to tailor your services to what your target audience wants.

The more you host virtual events, the more comfortable you will be and understand how your audience works. It might take a while to give everyone exactly what they want, but that’s what feedback is for and what will help you continue to improve and host successful virtual networking events in the future!

Host ​high-quality virtual events, conferences or trade shows.

​No matter the size of business or the type of organisation, V-Unite provides a complete virtual interface for engagement and collaboration.

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