How to Make Connections at Virtual Business Networking Events
Virtual events are part of our “new normal,” not only in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also as a result of the ever-increasing importance of digital networks to our world. Businesses in almost every industry are learning the value of virtual business networking events and conferences. They offer a convenient way to feature industry leaders and expert speakers and to connect with people from all over the world. They are also less expensive to attend and host than in-person events, while maintaining the ability to share the same information and training opportunities. On the flip side, however, there are some challenges to online events, including the opportunity for making real, person-to-person connections. But by following these tips, you can still build meaningful working relationships at virtual business networking events.
Do your homework. Being prepared for virtual online networking events is just as important as it is for in-person business networking events. Determine ahead of time exactly what you want to get out of the event. This will help you build your list of the people and organizations you most want to touch base with. Familiarize yourself with key details about them and develop a list of questions you would like to ask. Do the same for any keynote speakers. Showing you did your homework will provide a great first impression.
Engage before the event. If the event platform offers it, spend time creating a compelling profile for yourself to showcase your resume and experience to other attendees. Many virtual business networking events now utilize a mobile app or virtual tool to help attendees navigate the event. Get comfortable using it, review profiles for other attendees, and consider contacting some of them before the event.
Utilize social media. Share your upcoming attendance on your social media platforms and blog to help attract peers and potential connections. Most virtual networking events for businesses use one or two hashtags to support the conversation on social media, so be sure to include them in your posts. You can also use them to search for other attendees. Your social media is a great channel to post your real-time thoughts during the virtual business networking event, to share any helpful resources you gather, and to provide your feedback after.
Be active during the event. To get the most out of the opportunity, it is important that your attendance at the virtual online network event has your undivided attention. You can help that by blocking off the time on your calendar and turning off calls and emails during the event. Write a concise, three-sentence introduction for yourself that you can easily copy and paste into chat boxes. Share insightful comments and relevant resources on the event platform tools. Participate in Q&As, virtual hangouts, and break-out sessions. Utilize private messaging options to connect one-on-one with the targets you identified prior to the virtual business networking event. Before the event concludes, be sure to ask for contact information for the people you meet so you can continue the conversation afterward.
Don’t forget to follow up. Capitalize on the momentum from the virtual business networking event you attended by reaching out to the people and organizations you met while both your name and the event are still fresh on their minds. Connect with them on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter. Send email thank you notes and follow-ups. Search relevant hashtags and leave thoughtful comments and relevant resources on the posts of others. Continue to cultivate the professional relations in the weeks and months to come by maintaining meaningful connections.
Business networking events can help bring fresh ideas, new opportunities, and expanded professional expertise to your business. No matter if it happens through a handshake or in a virtual chat room, making strategic professional connections can help you achieve your business goals. If you’d like put some of these skills into action, Paradigm offers Table for Four, a weekly virtual networking event for businesses to connect with like-minded professionals and expand their professional network. Please join us.