A huge part of attending conferences and events is networking, in this blog we go through some hints and tips to connect in the virtual world – and with your peers.
In a survey conducted by the Meetings Industry Association, over 75% of delegates responded that the main reason they attend conferences and events is for networking. It’s a fact we can’t avoid. We’re a social bunch and there’s no surprise that the desire to return to live events seems to be driven by the ability to get together and share knowledge and ideas face-to-face. However, with hybrid and virtual events becoming the new normal, at least for now, how can we make sure we’re making the most of the events we’re attending? And how do we reach out and keep connected to our peers through a screen? These handy tips will get you started in this new environment.
Before the event
Familiarise yourself with the platform
If you’re planning the event, make sure you know how you will manage your delegate networking. If you’re using an event platform, make sure you tell your delegates where they can find it and how they can use it. If you’re simply attending, if you can log in in advance, make sure you do. Have a look around the platform so you don’t waste time during the event.
Make it user-friendly
This is one for the organisers — if you have delegate lists online, make sure people are tagged correctly so users can filter and find people based on criteria. Utilise platform capabilities so your delegates can network effectively.
Create your profile
Create your profile in advance and if possible, include a recent photo. People will want to see who you are and who they’re connecting with. This is a professional platform, not a dating profile. Make sure the photo is fit for purpose and has a likeness to you, you don’t want your peers wondering if they’ve misdialed or got the wrong person! This is your first impression so make it count.
Remember your profile replaces your business card
Set yourself up for business and use the platform to its fullest extent. Write a bio and remember to include LinkedIn and Twitter handles so people can reach you after the event.
Be prepared and be reasonable
If delegate lists are released in advance, use that time wisely and look through the attendees and decide who you want to speak to. Remember that you’ll be taking in a lot of information which can be tiring. Be realistic – during every break can you really cram everyone into your diary, and do people want to jump out of a session straight into networking? Be mindful that if you’re feeling drained, this will come across to your peers. It’s about the quality of the conversations, not quantity.
During the event
Your screen is a window to your life…
With so many people working from home, work and life are no longer separated. When you’re settling yourself down for your virtual event, look around you. Remember that you’re representing your business — what do your surroundings say about you and the company? Sit in front of a nice clear background, preferably a blank wall. This will allow you both to focus on the conversation without worrying about the washing you forgot to put away…
Don’t just dive in
Avoid cold-calling people. Prepare a little opener in advance that you send via email or on the platform. That way, if the time isn’t right, you’re not rejected but can find a time that suits both of you later in the day.
Building the courage to talk to peers can be nerving, even for the most skilled of us. Remember this – you already have a common interest; you are attending the same event after all! If you’re nervous, try to prepare some starter questions in advance. If they’ve joined a session, you’ve attended then start with that and ask them what they thought, the conversation will soon be flowing.
Set a target
Everyone loves a bit of healthy competition! If you’re a delegate, set yourself a target and see if you can network with enough people that you feel it’s a success. Organisers could take it one step further and do a giveaway for the most connections. It will encourage conversations and give you a drive to step out of your comfort zone.
Have confidence and be natural. You’ve totally got this, so go forth and network!
Did you know you could host a networking event from our state-of-the-art Broadcast Studio, which can accommodate up to four speakers live in the studio at one time and endless numbers off site. Seamless transitions throughout your event from speaker to panel or presentation will be overseen by dedicated on-site technical support supplied by Firefly Audio Visual Solutions as part of the package. The studio consists of three LED screens so content, speakers and audience can be shown at the same time, whilst the chair can be guided through the event via two comfort monitors. Find out more about the Broadcast Studio, here.