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!

When was the last time you were at a virtual trade show? If you’re thinking that (virtual) trade shows are a thing of the past, you might want to reconsider your attendance. This is especially important if you’re a small business or a startup. Virtual trade shows are an easy way to put your company out there and meet potential clients and customers that you may not be able to through other marketing channels. Now that you can attend virtually, there isn't much more effort you need to put in, giving you no reason to not RSVP yes for the virtual trade show.

Now that trade shows can be hosted virtually, creating a virtual exhibition booth is easy and cost-effective - giving you no excuse to skip an important show. If you’re able to attend online trade shows, you can seize so many opportunities that could take your business to the next level.

7 Benefits of Attending Virtual Trade Shows as a Startup or Small Business

If you're a small business or a startup looking to grow your client and customer base, then virtual trade shows are an important event to attend. There are so many advantages to this type of event and we have highlighted our top 7 benefits.

1. Connect with industry experts and leaders, potential clients and customers

Virtual trade shows are an easy way to meet industry leaders, clients and customers. Everyone at that trade show is there because they are genuinely be interested in the businesses. This is an incredible opportunity for you to get face time with valuable people and brands. These connections can potentially help expand your business into new and more profitable markets if and when the opportunity arises.

2. Sniff out the competition

Use the opportunity of being at a trade show to learn more about your competition. You can take the time to understand your competition and research their offerings. This is a great opportunity to see what other brands are doing that you may not be incorporating. Doing research like this can help you understand more of what your customers are looking for and how you can tailor your business to give them exactly what they want. A trade show is also an easy way to gain important insights into trends and other information that you could use to better your marketing and business strategy overall.

3. Raise brand awareness and create buzz

Attending a virtual event as an exhibitor or attendee can give you immense opportunities. As a startup or small business, you want to get the word out there. A virtual trade show is the perfect place to do just that. From the opportunity to spread awareness about your business and generate buzz to connecting with industry leaders and peers you can really get the right kind of exposure for your business. Talk to influencers and journalists to get your voice heard and use every valuable opportunity to put your new business on the map!

4. Generate leads at virtual trade shows

The leads you generate from a virtual trade show will be more valuable to you because they will be targeted to your audience. Hence, networking at a trade show is beneficial because everyone attending is genuinely interested in the brands that are there. Make sure you take the time to talk to as many people that are there. Your connections will go a long way even after the event, giving you tons of potential opportunities for you and your business.

5. Ability to establish yourself as a thought leader

When you exhibit at a trade show along with bigger companies, attendees will see you on the same level as those companies. This can help you establish your authority and credibility in the industry. Use this event as the opportunity to create awareness around your company and announce your brand to the market. The best part is that this event is your biggest marketing platform for your business! You get instant awareness and can establish yourself as an industry leader. Now that’s what we call a win-win.

6. Get immediate feedback

We've already talked about the many opportunities that comes with attending a virtual trade show. One of the best benefits is the ability to gain feedback in minutes. You can learn so much from direct feedback and make improvements instantly if possible. This will only help your business thrive and give you the necessary information you need to understand your market.

7. Find relevant partners

As you put your networking skill to good use, make sure you scope out the scene for potential partners. While we have mentioned that you will have competitors at the event, you might also come across individuals with similar insights and areas of expertise. Having an influential partner and one with lots of knowledge of the industry could really help you grow your business.

Virtual Trade Shows Can Help Your Business

What do you have to lose? Take advantage of the connections and networking opportunities that will be available through valuable trade shows. Attending a trade show as a small business is a great opportunity to generate buzz around your company. This is especially important because your business is new and you are trying to get it off the ground.

If you have a trade show on the horizon and are not sure if you’re going to attend, keep in mind these advantages and opportunities for your business. Remember that you can use the event as an easy opportunity to show off your new company and gain important insights into the industry.

Conference room for virtual meetings

Looking to expand to a different market? Or are you in the middle of restructuring your business? Setting up a virtual office looks like the answer for you. With more businesses switching to digital platforms everyday, having a virtual office for your business has its many advantages. Companies are adopting flexible schedules and hybrid or remote work models as the new norm. Employers have found that employees can be productive at home. On the other hand, employees know the convenience of a remote lifestyle. Between childcare and other appointments, people are able to do their job and tend to their personal life with a good balance.

Remote work is here to stay. What better way to stay connected than with your very own branded virtual office?

Top Advantages of a Virtual Office

As companies figure out a new structure and adapt new work models, designing a virtual office is a must. Not only will it help you manage meetings but it will also create a seamless way to connect with employees and clients. Here are the benefits of setting up a virtual headquarters for your business and why you need to start ASAP.

1. Increased flexibility

A virtual office brings increased flexibility for employees. Having a virtual office enables employees to log in from the comfort of their homes to work on projects and other tasks at their convenience. After a year of working from home, everyone has adapted to a different kind of lifestyle and employers want to keep their employees happy. Being flexible and open is the best way to do that. There are so many life issues that can come up and having the option to log on virtually or take meetings from anywhere can reduce stress and improve the overall productivity of employees.

2. Fuels work-life balance

When employees have the flexibility to log on from anywhere, they can balance their work and their personal life. Additionally, imagine all the hours saved from long commutes and the ability to join a meeting after a personal appointment that your employee might otherwise have to schedule time off for. By designing remote and flexible schedules you can boost motivation and help your employees manage their work in a balanced environment. Employees will feel less stressed about their work and will be more productive overall.

3. Access to more talent 

Having a virtual office gives you the opportunity to hire global talent. You will be able to interview many different employees from all over the country or even the world. This means you can source unique talent with the skills you are looking for that might not be found where you are. Hiring the right talent is important and being able to widen your reach will give you the opportunity to source the best for your firm. Additionally, having access to global talent is a great opportunity for your business to expand and set up shop in another country.

4. One mailing address

Since you’re not physically in an office, a virtual office will give you the ability to have one location to get all your mail and other documents making it look like you have a physical location. Your business will also have the advantage of a mutual location without giving away your private information such as your home address.

Woman in a virtual office

5. Good for the environment

Not having a physical office is also beneficial for the environment. Virtual offices help the environment starting from your employee's commute. Not only will there be fewer carbon emissions from eliminating everyday commutes but everything is done online which reduces the use of paper and other products that further impact the environment. As companies continue to strive to be environmentally responsible, this is an easy and convenient way to start.

6. Cost effective 

Yes, you read this right! According to Business Wire, companies spend around 15% - 46% on office rent. Having a virtual office reduces your overall overhead costs. Therefore you spend less and reduce your costs over time. While you still have an “office” to conduct meetings, a virtual office provides the perk of no rent. Additionally you will also save on other expenses such as utilities, snacks and more. The money you save can be used on other aspects of the business that needs investing to boost revenue.

7. Easy to setup

Everyone likes things to be easy. The good news is, setting up a virtual office is easy and quick to have ready. When you want to close up shop, it's easy to even shut down without any additional costs or expenses.

8. Room for expansion

Opening up new offices can often cost a lot of money without the guarantee of success. A major advantage of a virtual office is that you can expand without the costs that come with moving to a bigger space. Also, if you want to tap into the global market or expand to other states, you can do so with cost efficiency. If the office fails in a particular market, you can shut it down without a big financial loss.

Design Your Virtual Office Today

While virtual offices have become increasingly popular with smaller companies and start-ups, having a virtual office has proven to be extremely beneficial and convenient companies of all sizes. The way we work has changed drastically over the past year. It's important to continue to evolve with the changing times to keep everyone motivated and happy.

V-Unite has it's own virtual office! Check out the branded virtual office and get inspired to design your own!

event information center

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.

Top Tips for Navigating a Virtual Event Successfully

networking at an event

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.

1. Establish your networking goals

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.

2. Create a strong attendee profile 

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.

3. Reach out and introduce yourself!

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. 

Conference room for virtual meetings

4. Leverage social media

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.

5. Participate in real-time messaging 

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.

6. Engage in breakout sessions

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.

7. Follow up after the event

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.

Networking Opportunities Create Value

event lobby

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.

Man doing research on a laptop

Here’s a fun fact - virtual events CAN drive revenue. With the rise of virtual events bringing people together, various virtual conferences, trade shows, meetings, training sessions and other experiences have proven to be the best way to educate, connect and provide networking opportunities for clients and employees. If you’re a company that has just tapped into the virtual event space, now is a great opportunity to monetize on your online platforms as you adapt to the ever changing business climate. 

We all know that planning a virtual event is no easy matter. Just because the event is online doesn’t mean that you can let things slide. After all, you’re still trying to impress clients and show your audience you value their time and investment. Another great result that comes from a virtual event is revenue, and if done right, you can make a hefty profit when hosting virtual events.

How To Make Money When Hosting A Virtual Event - 6 Tips

If you’re ready to host a virtual conference or event, here are some helpful ideas on how you can make revenue with your virtual event.

1. Charge for event access

As you host a conference or event with notable speakers and engagement activities, you can and should charge per ticket for your audience to access the event. You have put in so much work to plan the event so why should you give it away for free? Additionally, guests are also more likely to attend an event if they have paid for it making it open to serious attendees only. This helps to keep your numbers more accurate as you continue to plan your event.

Pro tip:  To figure out the ticket price, make sure that it covers your overhead costs and that you will end up making a profit! Analyze your audience and what you are offering at the event to figure out the budget and what you think your attendees will be willing to pay for the ticket.

2. Tier ticket options

Depending on your event, you can offer different experiences for each tier of attendees. You can prove basic content to the least expensive tier and the most content for the most expensive tiers. You can offer extra content or other access and exclusive deals after the event.

Pro tip: Split your options into 3 tiers where you offer a regular experience with general access, a VIP experience where your audience can have more features or more access to the speakers and an all-access pass where your audience can have the full experience. This tier could also have exclusive on-demand content access for a limited time as well.

3. Video-On-Demand

Jumping off the previous idea, you can charge attendees an extra fee for them to be able to access video-on-demand after the event. This is a great way for your audience to be able to attend or view the event at a convenient time for them. Video-on-demand is also a great way to allow attendees that were unable to attend, be able to view your content.

Pro tip: You get to control who has access to content and how much they can view. Therefore, you are able to control the pricing model accordingly.

4. Sponsorships

Sponsorships are a great way to make some revenue from your virtual event. Advertisers and marketers love to be in front of their target audience. They will also be more open to collaborating with your brand if your audience and brand aligns with theirs. Use this as an opportunity to get paid for these companies to sponsor your event.

Pro tip: It’s important to make them see the value in sponsoring your event so treat them with care and thank them before AND after your event! 

5. Earn affiliate commission

When you offer demos for your software or products, it might be a good idea to sign up for their affiliate program to earn commission. When you're part of an affiliate program, you will get a unique link to use during your event when you are promoting them. If an attendee buys or registers anything from the affiliate companies, you earn a commission. It’s a win-win! 

Pro tip: Research the most relevant affiliate programs for your platform. These links should compliment your software or provide extra value when purchased.

6. Upsell during the virtual event

During your event, you want to make sure you are selling your product to your audience. Whether it’s special add-ons to your software, a package bundle, online courses or access to products before they launch in the market, you can and should expand your bottom line by having these products and services for sale at the event. 

Pro tip: Get your attendees excited about these products and how it will help them in their work and business. This in turn will also help convert your attendees into loyal customers in the future. 

Drive Success with Your Virtual Event

Virtual events are here to stay. While in-person events will start coming back, we will continue to have the element of signing on virtually moving forward As you gear up for event season, you need to gauge the business climate and make sure you are not missing out on reaching potential customers. With the virtual element, the possibilities of reaching a wide audience are endless. We hope these quick tips will help you start making revenue and get you in the full swing of planning your next virtual event!

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