There can be no substitute for in-person networking. However, many small business owners or solo entrepreneurs can’t justify the time and money it takes to travel across the country for conferences every few months. Even for well-established influencers, conferences can take time away from running the business they hope to promote, so how will this change the future of networking?
Virtual networking events have become increasingly popular since the pandemic hit in 2020 and they are here to stay. They’ll continue to gain momentum throughout the coming decade.
In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to know about the future of networking technology and provide tips on building a personal brand with virtual networking events.
- Virtual events are becoming more popular, which makes them a great opportunity for professionals looking to build a personal brand.
- Unified communication platforms can improve event participation and enable complex networking.
- Effective virtual networking is a skill. Our 10 tips will get you started on the path to mastery.
The Growing Relevance of Virtual Events in Personal Branding Strategies
Online events may have been turbocharged by COVID, but they’re here to stay. Recent research has revealed that virtual events are expected to grow more than 20% per year until the end of the decade, reaching a market size of $617 million by 2030.
Virtual networking is not just important for individuals. It also provides opportunities for businesses looking to expand their own networks.
Unified Communications and Video Conferencing for Virtual Networking Events
Thanks to innovative technologies like unified communication platforms, virtual networking has become easier and more accessible to even the smallest of businesses.
Unified communications are cloud-based solutions that combine communication elements, such as voice, video, and messaging, to offer a seamless experience across multiple devices and locations.
Additionally, it’s an essential tool for industry professionals looking to host or participate in virtual networking events.
Figure 1: Source
The Benefits of Unified Communications for Virtual Networking Events
Unified Communications offer several advantages when it comes to virtual events:
- Accessibility: A comprehensive solution can be accessed from any device with an internet connection. This makes it ideal for hosting participants who are often traveling or in a different time zone.
- Cost-effectiveness: You don’t need expensive on-site infrastructure like physical phones or equipment.
- Scalability: These platforms easily accommodate large numbers of event participants, making them ideal for events of any scale.
- Rich experiences: Technology fosters collaboration and affords networkers rich and productive interactions so they can focus on building connections, not on the technology itself.
Features to Look for When Selecting a Technology Platform
Consider these features when searching for a platform to enhance your virtual networking events:
- HD video conferencing: Don’t settle for less than the highest-quality video and audio experience.
- Breakout rooms: Breakout rooms allow for interactivity and team building.
- File sharing: File-sharing capabilities enable collaboration, which often includes the need to compare data and notes in real time.
- Interactive features: The platform should feature polls, live Q&As, and chat functions, which are critical to lively virtual networking.
5 Tips for Effective Participation in Virtual Networking Events
Done correctly, participation in virtual networking events allows you to reach a wide audience and thoroughly engage with fellow participants.
Here are 5 tips for participating in virtual networking events:
Test Your Technology in Advance
Double-check that your devices (including your laptop, webcam, and microphone), internet connection, and networking platforms are all fully functional before the event starts.
Expect to be on camera in front of potentially hundreds of your peers. Dress like you would if you were attending a conference in person.
Prepare Your Elevator Pitch
Practice a brief, informative introduction that summarizes your personal and professional background as well as your career goals.
Actively Engage in the Conversation
Pay close attention to speakers and look for opportunities to offer your expertise, ask probing questions, and add value to the conversation.
Follow Up with Fellow Participants
Take the time to reach out to fellow participants on LinkedIn, through Email, or through a text or phone call after the event. A personalized message will solidify your relationship.
5 Tips for Hosting Your Own Virtual Networking Events
Hosting your own future of networking event, a virtual event is an effective way to establish yourself as an authority and point of contact among industry peers. Follow these tips to host a powerful and productive networking event. These tips are equally helpful for first-timers.
Choose a Reliable Platform
Also, as mentioned above, you want a communications platform offering high-quality video and audio, robust engagement features, and a sleek interface to give your event the professional appearance it deserves.
Additionally, use tools like social media, email campaigns, and your existing personal network to spread the word and attract valuable participants.
Figure 2: Source
Stick to the Plan
Use a calendar to create a clear agenda for the event that includes time blocks, event goals, formats, speakers, breakouts, and discussions. Moreover, make sure you enforce the schedule to keep the event moving and respect the time of all your participants.
Prepare Engaging Content and Speakers
Great content is key to a memorable event for guests. Develop presentations that will add value to the event. Hire the best speakers to deliver insightful and interactive content
After the event, take the time to reach out to participants and gather valuable feedback. Likewise, with a personalized message, your feedback request can double as a useful networking tool in and of itself.
Also, check out this video on hosting virtual events if you’re new to the subject:
Final Thoughts: Virtual Networking Events Powered by Technology Are Here to Stay
So, by choosing the right platform, actively engaging in virtual networking events, and hosting your own virtual event, you can harness the power of the latest technology to build meaningful connections and expand your network.
Embrace the future of networking by incorporating these tips and best practices into your virtual event strategy, and you’ll be well on your way to establishing yourself as a leader in your industry.