Virtual events are a great way to reach out to professional contacts and expand your network. They’re free, easy to access from anywhere, and you can participate at whatever pace works best for you.
There are many reasons why virtual networking can increase your membership’s engagement and participation levels, including:
- They’re easy and convenient for busy professionals: Your members can attend network events without having to worry about travel or taking time off work. Everyone already knows the benefits of attending these events, but they still don’t always seem possible due to scheduling conflicts and other commitments that get in the way. With a virtual environment it allows them to participate.
- They reach a new audience: Where an in-person networking environment may not appeal to particular individuals, i.e., introverts, virtual open forums allow people of all experience levels and personalities to connect with you and others within your network on their terms.
- They’re perfect for working professionals: More than half of American adults are employed full-time. Hence, it’s no surprise that most people attending any professional event are also employed full-time outside of their 9-5 job. This means their time is limited, which makes online events even more attractive.
Sometimes virtual networking can be hard to stay engaged until the end of the event! Luckily, we’ve got five fun virtual networking event ideas that are guaranteed to keep things interesting until the last minute! Throw one (or more!) of these virtual events at your next online networking session to give everyone something they’ll enjoy.
Invite a VIP Speaker
Inviting guest speakers is an excellent way to ensure that your virtual networking event has some weight to it. By having local experts on hand, you’re encouraging participants to engage with each other online and get acquainted with the speaker beforehand.
This guarantees they’ll be interested in learning more about what they have to share and want to continue networking afterward!
To set up a guest speaker during your next online networking event, send out invites beforehand so attendees can schedule their calendars accordingly.
Then, find someone within your network or community who would make for an excellent speaker while giving them plenty of time (at least one week) to prepare something special that they can share via webinar or video chat at the end of the event.
Take a Mini Skills Class Together
It can be hard to engage with new people online, especially if you’re unsure what to say or how to start a conversation. Startups and small business owners are no strangers to networking events that typically end up feeling more like professional speed dating than anything else.
If you’ve ever questioned the value of attending those kinds of events, we’ve got good news – virtual networking events are here! This means your next event doesn’t have to feel as impersonal as it may sound. Instead, throw together a quick mini-skill share or class so attendees can gather some practical skills they can implement right away.
To set up this type of event, choose an appropriate topic beforehand. For example, you might select all about email marketing or social media. Then, offer it up as an option during registration to decide what will work best for them.
Once everyone is settled in online, ask the speaker to schedule a 10-minute presentation at the beginning of your event (or right before you host speed networking). Afterward, participants can network with each other while also learning something new!
Host a Virtual Happy Hour
If there’s one thing that never goes out of style in professional circles, it’s happy hour! No matter how busy you are – or how far away from your hometown you may be – nothing beats getting together with coworkers and friends to catch up over drinks after work.
Your next virtual networking event can do just that! To host a virtual happy hour during your next networking event, schedule a time at the end of your event when everyone is free to grab a drink with new and old friends alike.
This gives participants the chance to socialize in a slightly more casual setting while also leaving room for potential follow-up meetings, phone calls, or even coffee dates afterward.
Try Speed Networking with a Personal Twist
Despite popular opinion, speed dating doesn’t have to be so impersonal. It’s one of the best ways to meet people online quickly! If you’re looking for a speedy way to connect with new folks during your next virtual networking event, go ahead and try something similar to speed networking.
To host this type of activity, find a moderator in advance to keep an eye on things while everyone is engaged in conversation. Then, once you’ve given everyone ample time to introduce themselves, break them up into smaller groups based on interest or career path so they can get the most out of your event!
This way, participants will have more opportunities to meet new people who are already in their desired field, making for more meaningful conversations.
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Theme Your Event Around a Hobby or Interest
Don’t forget that when you’re hosting virtual events – it doesn’t need to be all business all the time! One of the best ways to network online is with event themes around hobbies and interests. From fitness networking to book clubs, find ways to connect with your audience on a personal level.
To host this event, develop an idea based on what you think your participants would enjoy. For example, some might like art networking, while others might love nothing more than learning about digital marketing strategies.
Then, set up the event exactly as you would any other virtual networking opportunity. After all, that’s what it’s all about – connecting in new ways!
And there you have it! Five of our favorite virtual networking event ideas. We hope this article gives you a few fresh ideas for how to keep your next event exciting and engaging.
As you can see from the examples above, whether you’re hosting a webinar or planning an entire summer camp for teens online, there are plenty of opportunities to connect via web and social media, so events don’t have to feel impersonal.