As more event marketers choose the hybrid way, there is an urgent need to understand the power of networking and how it can be leveraged at hybrid and virtual events.
Engagement and networking go hand-in-hand
It cannot be denied that, when it comes to networking, most virtual/hybrid events are unable to do as well as in-person events. However, it is essential if event organizers are to create engagement at their events. Networking is what encourages dialogue and conversation and delivers value to attendees.
One of the reasons for the lower success rate of networking in virtual/hybrid events is that as long as the event is going, there are different mediums of communication. However, once the event finishes, there is nothing to connect on. In an in-person event, however, attendees have the advantage of water and bathroom breaks, breakout sessions, or just chatting post-event.
In one of our earlier blogs, we looked at the different ways to blend in-person and virtual events. In addition to blending, there are a few other tips that you can try to improve networking at your virtual event.
1. The Platform
The platform you choose determines your event’s success to a large extent. A good hybrid event platform, that has several ways and means to introduce networking between in-person and virtual attendees is what you need.
Tools like one-on-one chats with speakers, Q&As, surveys, polls, and a virtual lobby where attendees can chat up with anyone are at the top of the list.
2. The Design of Your Event
If you’re hosting an event that is designed in a manner where speakers come, deliver their content, and leave, you’re not going to succeed in your mission.
So, spend some time in designing your event in a manner that strategically includes opportunities for networking. Draw up an agenda for each speaker and make sure there is enough time for chats and dialogues in between.
On platforms like Almond Virtex, vFairs, Airmeet, Hubilo, you can make use of ‘breakout rooms’ to send your attendees into a single ‘room’ that facilitates group discussions.
3. The Accessibility of Your Platform
This ties back to the earlier tip we discussed. Not only should your platform have tools for networking, but it also should be easily accessible to your offline and online attendees. Certain virtual event companies have platforms that allow for wonderful networking between their in-person and virtual attendees.
Gamification is by far the most effective way to improve audience engagement and generate conversations. Create teams that consist of virtual and in-person attendees and have a competition going. It’s going to be a lot of noise, fun, chatter, and networking!
5. Post-Event Networking
Once the event is done, don’t close communication. Enable your attendees to network even after the event is done. Make use of features such as breakout rooms and chat to continue dialogue.
It may seem daunting at first, but with the right planning, networking doesn’t have to be a challenge even in virtual environments.