For most people who go to summits, networking and the chance to meet potential allies, whether in business or career-wise, are top reasons for regularly attending these events. But with most conferences happening on a virtual stage these days, many people are left in the dark about networking in virtual events.
Although the elements of in-person communication like handshakes and bumping into someone while lining up for coffee are not possible during virtual events, you still have viable options to network with other attendees. Here’s some advice to help you maximize your networking efforts during virtual events.
Determine Your Goals for Networking
To do this, answer the following questions:
- How many attendees can you connect with realistically and in meaningful ways?
- Who’s the most crucial individual, team, or brand you need to connect with and why?
- How do you find these key people?
If you’re networking with your team, make sure that everyone knows about the networking goals. This will help make everyone accountable and make sure that you’re all on the same page.
Participate and Engage in Discussions
Even a single thought-provoking comment or question from you could spark discussions with others, in turn, increasing your chances of attracting potential clients or future collaborations. For example, sharing your insights on a new healthy food franchise opportunity at breakout sessions is likewise a great way to build your authority and demonstrate your expertise.
Just avoid appearing spammy. In general, post just one question or comment for each session so that other attendees can ask questions and contribute to the discussions too.
Give The Event Organizers Your Detailed Bio
When requested, make sure to give the organizers your contact information, detailed bio, and professional picture so that other attendees can find you easily when they scan the list of attendees. This helps position you and your business as potential networking targets for other attendees as well.
Other Considerations to Help You Maximize Virtual Networking Opportunities
Record the contact information of individuals you met at the virtual event. Whether it’s their contact numbers, virtual business cards, or social media handles, you should export them from the platform used in the event to someplace that you can easily access. You can add them to a spreadsheet or a business directory app.
Next, scan your list and rank each contact according to the quality and relevance of the chat you had with them during the event. Done right, your connections will fall into specific categories. Individuals you’d like to have a stronger connection with, those you need to follow up on about something, and those who didn’t fit in with your networking goals.
After you’re done sorting these contacts into specific groups, you should follow up with them accordingly. Generally speaking, it’s best to send them an email within 24 hours after the virtual event to ensure that what you discussed with them is still fresh in their minds.
Make sure to thank them for the insights they shared and the stimulating conversation. You could also email them links to research, whitepapers, or articles related to what you discussed with them.
Additionally, social media could be a great platform to share your insights about the virtual event. Tagging your new connections to your post and encouraging them to voice their insights too is an excellent way to keep the discussion going.
When in-person or online, networking is all about being helpful, focusing on and conversing with other individuals, and sharing your valuable insights. And although virtual events can’t offer actual face-to-face communication, some effort and thoughtful planning could go a long way towards ensuring that you can network virtually effectively.