Bringing people together is the main goal of any virtual networking event. Unlike other types of virtual events, it is purely about engagement, interaction, and connection. Whether networking is done virtually or in person, it is a cornerstone of business relationships.
Organizing a virtual networking event can be a great way for companies to meet industry peers, get in touch with potential clients, or arrange meetings to discuss important issues. You can invite attendees from far and wide without having to worry about locating a physical location, and no matter where they are, you can gather the best talent.
What Is Virtual Networking?
The benefits of virtual networking go far beyond simply substituting in-person networking. It allows professionals to interact and make new connections, and possibly even advance their careers, all from the comfort of their own homes and on their own schedules.
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted an increase in virtual networking among professionals across all industries. Due to obvious reasons, meeting people online is more flexible than going to an event in person.
There are unique benefits to virtual networking events that cannot be matched by in-person events. Here are just a few:
- It allows professionals to network during their packed schedules without wasting time travelling and attending in-person events.
- Event organizers can bring in speakers from around the globe who would otherwise be unable to travel to their location (and they are likely to be more affordable as well).
- People with disabilities or chronic illnesses can attend networking events more easily.
- It allows professionals to participate in events and meet people in cities and countries they otherwise would not be able to visit.
- Due to the lack of a physical space to book and manage, virtual networking events are easier to organize and less costly.
10 virtual networking event ideas for your next event
Virtual events can feel monotonous at times – you join a video conference and people talk about their business, what they do, and how you can work together. To break this monotony, it’s important to understand exactly what your members are looking for to help them get the most out of their virtual networking experiences. Give your attendees a reason to talk about your event by introducing one of these fun virtual networking event ideas.
1. Invite a VIP Speaker
Most networking events give you the opportunity to hear about everyone and learn more about their industry. Turn your networking event into a mini-seminar by bringing in an industry leader or thought leader to give a keynote.
Imagine it as a networking event where your guests can network with each other and an industry expert. It gives attendees a chance to learn more about a professional’s career journey or the organization they run or represent. You can use this keynote as a starting point for your networking session and get people thinking as they learn about each other at your live event.
2. Virtual Dinner Party
Apart from being a key component of socialization, sharing meals with your network is a great way to discuss work, interests, and hobbies. If you want to pique attendees’ interest in your event, you can send meals to participants one hour prior to the event.
As opposed to an in-person meetup, a virtual dinner can be the better option since there are no logistics to consider, such as parking, decorations, or location. FLOOR is a virtual event platform that allows you to share your presentations and interact with attendees as they dine from the convenience of their homes or offices.
3. Event Gamification
Gamification is one of the ways you can promote engagement while building your professional network through virtual events. Including game mechanics in your program will encourage meaningful engagement.
Keep everyone motivated by hosting small contests during your virtual networking event. Make sure a moderator is assigned who is capable of managing time efficiently and facilitating the discussion. Provide amazing prizes as part of your rewards program. Participants gain a boost of energy from this and the competition becomes more exciting.
FLOOR comes with essential gamification features like a leaderboard that allows you to gain insights about individual attendee engagement at your event based on the activity score. You can incentivize attendees who have made many new connections or attended many networking sessions through game elements.
4. Pre-Event Live Chat
A virtual communication tool such as chat can boost the engagement of attendees from beginning to end. Organize a group discussion before your presentation. This initiative lets you build a community that’s focused on the event’s goals and objectives.
Additionally, it allows attendees to feel at ease with the event process. Before the program, the participants can even introduce themselves and start networking. The moderator has more control over the conversation flow with a chat platform. The virtual event platform provides better access to tools when answering relevant questions and maintaining a balanced conversation.
5. Online Well-Being Activities
While business conferences provide great opportunities to network, share expertise, and gain insight from industry leaders, they can also become high-pressure environments.
Therefore, including health and well-being activities can lighten up your virtual networking event and boost attendees’ energy levels. You can organize a short workout or a meditation break between sessions, depending on the format of your event. You can schedule these mind-body activities for different dates so that attendees can enjoy them throughout the event.
6. Virtual Watch Party
There’s no need to leave the house for attending networking sessions with businesspeople and entrepreneurs. A virtual watch party can help you network and connect with your peers in real-time.
Organize a virtual movie night with your guests and ask them to select the movies. FLOOR, a trailblazing community platform, allows users to create a virtual watch party with others in separate locations in real-time. When you invite participants to join a conference call, you can activate a chat room where everyone can discuss and ask questions while watching the session.
7. Online Gala Event
A virtual networking event such as a gala is another event idea that works well. Hosting one will give you the opportunity to invite your biggest supporters and let everyone in their network know more about your organization.
Let guests join you for remarks from your company and a keynote presentation. Before the event, deliver some treats and a bottle of wine to attendees. You can also hold activities that you normally would at your live event gala, such as virtual auctions or raffles.
You can broadcast real-time video and engage your attendees at your gala night. You can ensure that your mission is visible by holding a virtual gala event. It is certain that your cause will succeed when you have the involvement of volunteers.
8. Virtual Speed Networking
The purpose of speed networking is to connect people within a short period of time. Using a virtual event platform, you can host a speed networking event where participants are paired in private rooms to strike up a conversation quickly.
Check out FLOOR’s AI Networking platform if you’re looking for a complete networking solution for your business. It is suitable for anyone who would like to virtually connect with people online, network with other event attendees, or engage in a one-on-one conversation.
It offers excellent networking tools, including a lounge, a community hub, direct messaging, meeting request functionality, and more. As an administrator, you can set session lengths, and manage roles and permissions, among other things.
9. Moderated Roundtable Discussion
Invite your members to participate in the conversation by hosting a virtual roundtable discussion. This works well for smaller groups since everyone has a chance to speak. Consider breaking the group up into breakout rooms and asking one representative from each to share their takeaways at the end.
10. Breakout Sessions
Large-scale events can be split up into smaller groups to encourage networking with virtual breakout rooms. You can use these breakouts to conduct Birds of Feather sessions. The idea is to have breakout sessions based on a subject of mutual interest. Panel discussions that promote community growth through networking with like-minded individuals are informal or relaxed.
Attendees will always have questions, so give them an opportunity to ask them. The live chat feature allows attendees to interact with each other, the event host, and the speaker. Using it to facilitate seamless group and/or one-on-one conversations would create high engagement and new opportunities.
The best way to maximize your time at virtual networking events and conferences is to build bridges and connect with people across the platform. By hosting your own virtual networking events, you’ll be able to enhance your own network, as well as your reputation as a connector, despite being physically separated. Connect with our experts today to get more insights on hosting a successful virtual networking event.