How to Excel at Virtual Event Networking
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
What many of us miss the most from attending in-person events, is seeing our friends and colleagues, as well as making new professional acquaintances. These relationships serve to nurture our personal lives and careers and we often gain lifelong friends and career opportunities from these encounters. Now that we are dealing with a virtual world it even more important to take steps to reach across the screen and be seen. Here are some tips that can help you succeed with networking at your next virtual event.
- Annouce your attendance pre- and post-event. Once you register for a virtual event let your peers know via your social media channels, website or on LinkedIn.
- Establish your networking goals. Networking virtually requires more intentionality so make a list of your networking goals and have a plan in place early. Goals could include, introducing yourself to three new people or trading emails with ten attendees. Consider connecting with individuals that can help further your professional advancement and career success.
- Start with a chat. Enter the virtual event early so you can use the chat feature to introduce yourself and let attendees know you are present. Feel free to share where you are from and what you are excited to learn during the event.
- Share insightful comments. Use the Q&A engagement tools to showcase your expertise and engage with presenters and attendees. It’s best however, to limit your feedback to one or two questions/comments per session so you don’t hijack the conversation.
- Participate in virtual games or networking sessions. Gamification is often part of virtual events so be sure to participate. You may even win a prize! If a networking session is offered either during or after the presentations, make sure to be involved. These sessions provide a perfect opportunity to socialize and discuss a variety of key industry and personal development topics.
- Schedule post event connections. If there are a few individuals that you’d like to spend more time with to discuss a particular topic, why not schedule a virtual coffee hour. You can also follow up with others afterward by sharing interesting and informative articles that pertain to some of the presentations while offering your insights. Other ways to follow up after the event include sending thank you emails to presenters, asking for additional information, or requesting new connections using LinkedIn.
Networking is important to your career so don’t let a lack of in-person conferences stand in the way of connecting with others. You never know when a connection will result in a lifelong friendship or an important business opportunity.