People love socialising and yet the social element is one of the first things that is frequently dropped from virtual events.
But things don’t have to be that way. Virtual networking really can be great as long as you know what you’re doing and understand the limitations and potential that an online social has to offer.
So let’s take a look at just what makes virtual networking special and how you can capitalise on it to start hosting amazing online networking events during your virtual shows.
3 Simple Reasons Why Virtual Networking Is Important
Okay, let’s start at the very basics. Why should you even bother with virtual networking in the first place?
- It’s fun
- It’s what people expect from their in-person events
- Virtual events can help you network with a huge array of people
In short, they offer an unprecendented amount of value to your attendees that is hard to make up with anything else you can offer. After all, even giving away free goodies, discounts or offering more educational talks just can’t quite match up to the prospect of meeting new people, making connections and potentially getting more job opportunities.
And a virtual network holds infinitely more value, because the international potential of a virtual networking event means that your attendees can potentially network with a far more diverse range of contacts within their industry.
So in short, YES – You need a virtual networking social to happen at your virtual event.
So now the next important thing we need to look at, is how do you absolutely nail your online networking.
How to Host A Great Virtual Networking Event In 4 Simple Steps
Step 1 – Find The Pefect Platform
You wouldn’t host a social in a building with the lights flickering and the walls collapsing, so we’ll assume you wouldn’t want to host a virtual networking social on an online platform that is equally unstable.
If any part of your online social is going to fail, the last thing it should be is the platform you’re hosting it on.
At ReAttendance we would highly recommend Zoom. It’s simply one of the most versatile and stable video conferencing systems on the market, plus it’s very easy for newbies to use. We’ve integrated Zoom into our own virtual events platform – that’s how much we like it!
Step 2 – Use Breakout Rooms To Their Full Effect
Do you remember the last time you went to a social and all 100 guests gathered into a huge group and shouted over each other?
No of course you don’t.
People like to split off into smaller groups at events and actually get to know each other. So you need to make sure that your virtual event works in exactly the same way.
This is why virtual breakout rooms are such a powerful tool and such a necessity for an actually practical online social networking experience.
Thankfully, video conference platforms like Zoom allow you to easily create Breakout Rooms and even give them custom names to add a little bit of personality or a theme to your event. It’s by far the quickest way to make sure that your social doesn’t devolve into shouting and that your guests can get quality time with each other.
Step 3 – Be A Great Host
When we say host we actually mean a “party host”, not a internet host or a platform host.
Online is different to in-person because everyone by their nature is locked in place at their screens. They can’t mingle or move around like they would at a real event. And on top of that, the experience is new to a lot of people. Many people simply don’t know what to do at a virtual networking event and that means they’re going to need some help.
And that means that you’re going to have to be on fun management. You will need someone there making sure people are having a good time and keeping the energy up. Whether that’s simply in the form of jumping between breakout rooms to make sure the conversation is flowing, to someone actually managing a more complicated virtual social (we’ll talk about that in the next step) – you need a great host on hand to make people forget that they are by themselves at a computer and totally immerse them in the virtual reality of your social.
Step 4 – Unlock The True Power of The Medium
One of the things that so many virtual events get wrong, is that they try to perfectly rebuild an in-person event, but put it online.
And this copy and past mentality completely misses the point of what makes the online medium so strong.
It’s true, that an online social will never quite be as visceral or alive as standing in a room with a real person. But that doesn’t mean that online socialising is worse. It’s simply…different.
And in these differences is where the strength of your virtual networking social can lie. You just have to discover how to use the online experience to its full effect.
We’ll even give you an idea to get started:
A speed social – Everybody gets 15 minutes to talk with randomly selected people in a breakout room.
It can be as simple as that. In real life, it would be impossible to randomise people in this way and keep the evening flowing. People would wander over to different groups, they would take ages to seperate, the whole thing would be a mess.
But in an online space, at the click of a button, you can randomly assign people into completely different groups. And those people will then be locked in and actually have to interact with their random group.
It works fantastically in action. We’ve seen socials go on all night with people loving the thrill and excitement of meeting new people and just going along with it.
This is what we mean when we say you have to play to the power of the medium. Online is not the same as in-person. But that’s a good thing, because the online space can be…ANYTHING! Online is freedom is create totally new social spaces and experiences. All you have to do is use a little imagination and give your guests a completely original experience that they wouldn’t get anywhere else.
Socialising Is Key To A Successful Virtual Event
The most important thing to take away from this, however you might end up running your own virtual networking event, is that the importance of the social aspect cannot be understated.
While people attend conferences and events to learn, without a social element, you’ve basically just got a selection of online webinars. You need to think differently about your online events and really engage with your audience.
And a virtual networking social is exactly the way you do it. Good luck and absolutely nail it!