Virtual events will be with us for a long time to come. They will certainly be our only option for at least a year, but even after that – we are willing to bet – hybrid formats will continue to be implemented, as both organisers and businesses have become familiar with the advantages of this kind of event format. Those unfamiliar with digital platforms and remote events, however, still have many questions and a few doubts. Among the issues that baffle in-person event enthusiasts is the question of interacting with other participants. How can you network at a virtual event if you cannot chat, meet casually, and shake hands? Don’t worry: it’s much easier than it sounds!
You need clear goals before you can network at a virtual event
When we talk of networking, we are talking about a thousand different concepts and it is important not to run set off without a clear goal. In this respect, networking at a virtual event does not differ much from exploring the stands at a traditional trade fair. If you don’t know what your goals are, who you are interested in approaching, what your target audience is in terms of leads or sales, how can you judge the success of your participation in the event? Plan ahead carefully and set yourself targets. Make a list of the attendees you want to communicate with, the panels you want to attend, and the potential partners or customers you want to connect with and plan your virtual interactions accordingly.
Let people find you: promote your presence at the event
When you attend an all-digital event, you already know that you won’t be able to meet your stakeholders face-to-face, so getting noticed may seem more difficult than at traditional events. It is not that hard to network at a virtual event, as long as you make yourself available. The first step is to promote your attendance. Remember to share the news of your participation on all your social networks (if you work in a strictly professional environment, LinkedIn is the most important), using the hashtags provided by the event. Even during the event, especially if it lasts several days, share the moments and content that best represent you on public platforms and make it easy even for the most distracted observers to discover which event you are attending. Don’t forget to share your impressions after the event, using the associated hashtags, so that your networking opportunities extend into the following days.
Make yourself heard! (In the right way)
Getting noticed with an avatar is not always easy and is not for everyone. Some people are more confident and easy-going in direct interaction, some have charisma, some are always elegant or have an attention-grabbing presentation style, some deliver compelling speeches or have charming voices. All these tools will not help you during a virtual event: all that matters is the content of the conversation, the substance of what you have to say, and the timing of it. That is why it is important to learn how to communicate clearly and engagingly using instant messaging apps and forum comments. In these contexts you shouldn’t write lengthy texts, not every conversation has to be an elevator pitch. Learn to quickly develop short but meaningful comments that allow you to enter and enrich conversations. Do not intervene just to promote yourself, otherwise, your contributions will be perceived as spam. Instead, make your opinions known on topics relevant to your industry so that you are seen as an interesting contributor.