How To Host a Successful Virtual Networking Event

Go virtual to host a more inclusive, lower-cost networking event. In this post, you’ll learn how to host a better networking event - online.

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While everything went virtual thanks to COVID-19, we learned that some things were better online. Networking events are one of those things. While creating relationships in-person will always be one of the best ways to network, meeting virtually continues to be a top choice even as in-person events return. In this article, we cover why virtual networking is so important, what the advantages are, and how you can host a successful virtual networking event. 

Why is virtual networking important?

Like in-person networking, networking can benefit anyone at any stage of their career. From sharing knowledge and connections to increasing confidence and career opportunities, networking is the key to personal and career growth for many people. Networking virtual has the added benefit of allowing connections to take place anywhere, anytime, and through language barriers. 

What is the advantage of a virtual networking event?

1. Overcome physical barriers

With virtual events, anyone can attend from anywhere in the world. Use the benefits of technology to help cultivate relationships without physical barriers. 

Network with anyone, anywhere via email

2. Keep costs low

Hosting a virtual event means significant savings. Hosting virtual events is significantly less expensive. All that is required is a virtual platform to host the event. But the host isn’t the only beneficiary of a lower-cost event. Attendees can avoid travel costs associated with many in-person events and often benefit from a lower ticket cost. 

3. Save time

With any in-person event, there will be travel time to account for and set up and break down time for the event space. This could mean hours, if not days, of added time avoided with a virtual event. 

4. Offer more flexibility 

From lower cost to less wasted time, make virtual events more flexible for you and your attendees. Offer more events per year, invite more people, and bring in keynote speakers. With virtual events, you’ll gain the flexibility to design the perfect event.

5. They are more inclusive

All of the points above lead to more inclusive events. In-person events are much easier for people with more funds, flexible jobs, easier access to transportation, and no children to attend. By hosting virtual events you are opening up the possibilities for groups that are often unable to attend in-person events.

How to host a successful virtual networking event

Before the event

Promote

You’ve planned the perfect virtual networking event, but the success of networking events largely hinges on who attends. Spread the word on social media, through email, and even try to get in some pre-networking event networking. Create a custom digital business card just for your event, so you can promote your event to anyone you meet.

Promote your event with a digital business card

Curate your guest list

You’ve spread the word, and now it’s time to see who plans on attending. Take a deep dive into your guest list. You’ve likely got a wide range of attendees, and throwing everyone into a Zoom call probably won’t lead to easy connections. Instead, focus on industries, job titles, or other similarities to group attendees into breakout groups. This will help guide conversations and promote more organic connections. 

Prepare attendees

Your guest list is finalized, and your event is just around the corner. Now it’s time to give your attendees an overview of what is to come.  Even though most people have joined quite a few video conferences by now, the platform you chose might be new to them, so make sure you offer instructions on how to join beforehand. It is also a good idea to provide a schedule to help your guests prepare for each part of your event. 

Make connecting easy

Networking events are great, but if you don’t leave with everyone’s contact information, the benefits are lost. So instead of swapping phone numbers in the chat, direct attendees to create a virtual background that links to their digital business card. Then, attendees can scan their virtual backgrounds to save everyone’s contact information. 

The best way to use a digital business card at your event is to have everyone use the same platform. We suggest recommending HiHello. Not is it simple to create a card and virtual background, but it is also completely free, so your guests won’t have to worry about paying for a new business card

Make connecting easy virtually with a virtual background linked to your digital business card

During the event

Make time for introductions

It can be tempting to jump right into conversations, but before you let the networking begin, give everyone a moment to introduce themselves. This helps break the ice and ensure everyone feels comfortable speaking. 

Be active 

It can be tempting to sit back and watch while your attendees make new connections, but as the host, it is your job to keep the conversation flowing and ensure everyone gets an opportunity to speak. So don’t be afraid to take the title of cruise director to keep discussions lively. 

After the event

Send a follow-up

In the few days after the event, send a thank you email. This is the perfect place to send any reminders about topics covered during the event and a reminder to follow up with any new connections made. 

Just in case someone forgot to scan a digital business card or save a contact, include attendees' digital business cards in your email too! 

Ask for feedback

Any time you host an event, always remember to ask for feedback. In many cases, attendees will have a very different experience than the host, so whether or not you are planning another event anytime soon, be sure to ask your guests for their comments. 

How to use HiHello for virtual networking events

When you are hosting a virtual networking event, digital business cards are one of the easiest ways to ensure the connections made at your event last longer than a Zoom call. 

The first step to creating a digital business card is to make an account. Sign up on the iOS or Android app or web app. The free plan will give you everything needed to create a digital business card. Create up to four business cards, share via QR code, email, text, or NFC, use virtual backgrounds and email signatures, and even import Google Contacts into your smart address book. 

To access HiHello’s premium features like unlimited cards, profile videos, embedded videos, custom colors, card designs, and more, direct attendees to the HiHello Pricing page to sign up for a Professional plan. 

Want to offer HiHello Professional to your attendees? Contact us to get a promo code for your event. 

Download hihello for free

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