Virtual Networking Event

Virtual Networking: How to Host A Fun and Engaging Event

Networking is going virtual! Learn about what virtual networking is, how to host a virtual networking event and our best virtual networking tips!
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December 10, 2022

Ever since the pandemic, virtual networking events have become the new reality of networking. While it is quite different from in-person events, virtual networking still allows workers and colleagues to make so many new connections just as you would at an in-person event. Read on to learn about what virtual networking is, how to host a virtual networking event and our best virtual networking tips! 

What Is Virtual Networking?

Virtual networking events have always been around but have been made more popular during the pandemic. Virtual networking events used to be the way we would connect with our colleagues working on the other side of the world. But now, virtual networking is in the forefront of the corporate world, and just because we can’t meet someone face to face doesn’t mean we can’t make a powerful connection. Virtual networking is focused on bringing people together, safely, to connect and engage with each other, on either a business or personal level. Networking has become a main staple within the business world, and it can still be done successfully in today’s ever changing world. 

Why should you host a virtual networking event? 

Benefits Of Hosting A Virtual Networking Event

Hosting virtual networking events is beneficial for all the parties involved. Forming connections and meeting new people will help you on your professional journey. Meeting new faces in the industry and getting new and fresh ideas from new colleagues is the best way to network! 

1. Meeting New People

Networking opens the doors for people to grow, learn more about each other and possibly even take their career to the next level. When hosting a virtual networking event, you have a wider reach of people, as anyone can attend from anywhere in the world. 

2. Save Money & Time

In terms of money and time, you will save on both! No need to set up a conference room with tables and chairs! All you need to do is set up a meeting time and send a link and everyone is instantly connected! While you are in a virtual networking event at work, you may begin to talk about personal matters, and make connections in that aspect as well. The more people you know, the better! 

3. Boost Your Brand

Hosting a virtual networking event is a great way to get your brand major exposure, even with it being virtual! You can send attendees branded materials that they can wear or use during and after the event, or create a branded hashtag that attendees can use to share their experience on social media. 

4. Connect Talent to Opportunities 

Despite being virtual, an online networking event can still serve its purpose of connecting like minded people! The more people you meet in these types of events, the more likely it is that attendees will have a plethora of new opportunities available to them- and when they follow through with those opportunities, they’ll have your virtual networking event to thank! 

5. Increase Event Satisfaction 

One benefit to holding any type of event, especially virtual events that are new to the working world, is that you can use that experience to improve future experiences. Collect feedback from attendees to see what went well at your event and what you could improve on for next time. This will ensure that future events leave everyone happy and satisfied!   

How To Host A Virtual Networking Event

Speaking at a Virtual Networking event

While you can avoid the hassle of trying to find and book a conference room big enough to gather all of your employees, there are still many factors to consider when planning for a networking event. This guide will help you to remain on track when you’re doing your initial planning. 

1. Before The Event

Set Up Your Goals 

Goals are so important in all aspects of the business world. Goals need to be clear, concise and achievable. First, start by determining what is important in terms of your goals. Does one goal take precedence over another goal? What do you want your attendees, as well as your own company to achieve? Keeping a running list of the goals you wish to achieve during the event and receiving feedback after the event is over will help to determine which goals were achieved and which ones were not. 

Set Up A Budget

Traditional networking events usually happen after work hours, and typically have some light refreshments for people to munch on while they’re networking. While you don’t need to spend money on food, drinks, and other matters like you would for a traditional in-person networking event, you do need to consider the costs for matters like branding and marketing. Speaking to upper management or executives will help you to determine what an appropriate budget will be. Once a budget has been established, make sure you stick to that budget and try your best not to go over it. 

Design Your Event With An Agenda  

Now that you have your goals established, it will be easy to design your virtual networking event. Be sure to include time for introductions, Q&A sessions, time for speakers, and closing remarks. Sending out a digital agenda to your attendees will help prepare them for what’s coming next and how the event will flow overall. Be sure to include some buffer room as well to account for any technology mishaps! 

Build Your Guest List

Virtual networking events can be held for all types of companies of all sizes. However, if your networking event has a certain theme or is being catered to a certain industry, you need to know the correct people to invite. Pinpointing which guests you want to invite will also help make the planning process run smoothly. Guest speakers can also be a valuable addition to a networking event, whether it's an executive within your company or someone influential within your community. Adding them to your list of guests will stir up excitement amongst other attendees!

Choose The Right Virtual Tool

With just a little bit of research, you’ll see there are various types of platforms that specialize in hosting all types of events, both in person and virtual. Platforms like Hubilo take the reins for your event, from running the sales of tickets to sending out the invitations and even sending out the feedback survey at the conclusion of the event. Virtual hosting platforms take the stress out of planning, especially if you’re not sure where to start! 

2. During the event 

Be An Active Host and Moderator 

In virtual events of all types, it’s easy to get carried away in conversation with your colleagues. While it’s great that you’re connecting with your peers, the time needs to be spent networking and going along with the agenda. Having a virtual event moderator or being the moderator yourself to help keep everybody on track and focus on the task at hand will be beneficial to everyone. If time allows, you can add some free time to the agenda so your employees can mingle. But the great thing about networking is that you can get your colleagues name and information so you can continue any conversations that had to come to a stop. 

Make It Fun with Contests And Giveaways 

As an incentive for attending your virtual event, using contests or giveaways are a great way to thank everyone for coming! Having prizes to give away will keep your employees engaged and interacting with one another! If your budget allows, obtaining larger prizes will drive interest in any future events. Smaller prizes may include items such as a swag bag full of goodies, reusable water bottles or event tickets for upcoming events! 

3. After the Event 

Send A Thank You 

Once the event concludes, sending a thank you note to your attendees is a great way to express your gratitude for attending the event. Keep it short but getting your point across of how great it was to have them attend the event will go a long way! When sending a thank you note, remember to be timely! Soon after the event is the perfect time to send a thank you!

Post-event Surveys 

What better way to gather data after an event than a post-event survey! Getting feedback from your attendees will help to improve events in the future! Survey questions can range from Yes/No questions to open-ended questions, to even rating questions. Be sure to have a question asking what the company could improve on, to get honest feedback on what could be improved. Using a post-event survey can also determine if people would attend your events in the future!

7 Virtual Networking Ideas 

How to run a Virtual Networking Event

Networking can be done in a variety of ways. Before the pandemic, networking events usually happened after work, maybe with a little food or drink and people would exchange business cards. Now that virtual networking events are popular, you are able to make the events fun and engaging. Here are 7 virtual networking ideas that will help to keep your employees engaged. 

1. Games and Icebreakers 

Games and icebreakers are the most laid back way to get to know your colleagues. There are a number of different games, all virtual, that your employees can play. Adding any type of gamification to your event can help your employees get to know each other on a professional as well as a personal level. 

2. Coffee and Cocktail Hours 

Everybody needs an afternoon pick me up, and breaking up the day with an afternoon coffee chat is a great way to do that! Everyone grabs their favorite cup of coffee and sits down to get to know each other. If you want to spice up your networking event, having an after work cocktail hour will help everyone relax and settle in for an evening of networking. You can even incorporate food into your event by sending food to your attendees through different programs that offer a wide variety of food to choose from. 

3. Fireside Chats 

Fireside chats are personal and interactive, usually with a moderator to keep the conversation on track. These types of chats are informative, not only to the business world, but they also allow a glimpse into the speaker’s world. They may use their personal life experiences to tie into how they run their everyday life.

4. Puzzles or Problem Solving

Puzzles are a great way to get your brain thinking and helping each other solve puzzles is a great way to interact with one another. One person may see one way to solve a puzzle or problem, and someone else may see a completely different way of solving it. Working together brings everyone closer while working towards a common goal. 

5. Storytelling Hour

In smaller groups, storytelling hours are a fantastic way to learn a little bit more about your peers. The storytelling hour can have a theme, such as a time you worked together to solve a problem, a time you overcame a hardship or the happiest moment in your life. This type of event doesn’t exactly focus on business, but sometimes it’s nice to get to know people on a personal and human level. 

6. Rotating One on One Networking Sessions

If your event is on the larger side, having rotating one on one meetings with each other is a great way to quickly meet everyone. Getting a name and information of each colleague you meet and maybe even a small fact will help you to remember who each person is! 

7. 2 Truths and a Lie 

This game goes back to being a kid, hanging out with your friends and trying to decide which of the three facts they told you is a lie. However, this is a fun way to interact with each other and you get to relax and truly see everyone’s personality. You can even tailor the game to be work or personal related and you can learn a little bit more about everyone. 

Audience Engagement

 Improving audience engagement at networking events

People might not want to attend a virtual networking event, as they might not see the benefits they can achieve from attending. However, audience engagement is crucial and valuable to your attendees learning new and fresh ideas! Networking connects all types of people, with different levels of knowledge. Once you start talking to someone and begin to understand what they do, you may realize that they can help you on your professional journey and vice versa. A meeting of the minds may become a new idea or business venture. Connecting with new people will benefit everyone in the long run. 

Virtual Networking Tips

When it comes to virtual networking, there are certain key points that you should keep in mind. We’ll go through our top tips for nailing your virtual networking event during each phase. 

1. During the Planning Phase 

Set Up Your Goals 

Knowing your goals is essential when planning your virtual networking event. It will help you know what to prioritize going forward in terms of marketing, budgeting and more. 

Set Up Your Budget

The next step is planning out your budget. Your budget is what will guide any financial decisions for your event, like the venue you choose or what you’ll spend on marketing. 

Create An Agenda

Creating a detailed agenda of how the event will go will keep your team and attendees on track! 

Build Your Guest List

Creating a guest list is important, especially for a networking event. Host people from the same industry or with the same interests to ensure networking success! 

Choose The Right Platform

The platform you choose makes all the difference! A platform like Hubilo has plenty of features that make connecting easier and more fun. 

2. During the Event 

Be An Active Host and Moderator

As you host the event, make sure everyone is feeling comfortable and having a good time. Moderate any parts that may be taking awhile to make sure everything remains on track. 

Make It Fun With Contests and Giveaways

Add some fun into your networking event by holding a contest or giveaway! This will engage attendees and add participation to the occasion.  

3. After the Event 

Send A Thank You

Following up your event with a thank you to your attendees will make a lasting impression to an otherwise great event! 

Post-event Surveys

Get feedback from your attendees on how they liked the event by sending out post-event surveys. Collecting feedback this way will help make your next events even better! 

Host Virtual Networking Events with Hubilo

And now you’re set to host your own virtual network event! If you’re still unsure about how to go about planning a networking event, let Hubilo help you with all of your planning! Not only can we help with things like event registration and ticketing, but we also can help with things like sponsorship and broadcasting. With Hubilo’s help, you can sit back, relax, and get ready for a fun and informative virtual event! 

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