How to Plan a Virtual Networking Event

By CSU Global - July 20th, 2020

Woman sitting in front of a computer screen with a conference call displayed on the screen.

As the old saying goes: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Obviously, that’s not entirely true – it’s important to develop your skills for the career you want – but we can’t deny the importance of networking.

When in-person events aren’t an option,  virtual networking events can be a great alternative. Virtual networking allows alumni from all over the world, or employees of a company with multiple branches to connect in real time. Regardless of distance,  here’s how to make new connections anywhere, any time.

Differences Between Virtual and In-Person

Virtual events need to have goals and a set agenda. For example, an in-person networking event can attract attendees on the promise of networking alone, but a virtual one will need a value proposition to entice people. This may come in the form of a content offer, sharing expertise, or other presentation feature.

And manage your expectations. A virtual engagement simply can’t compete with real-life interaction. If you want to follow up with leads or the people you meet, you’ll need to do so quickly after the event, typically via email or LinkedIn.

Questions to Ask When Planning a Virtual Event

Remember to put yourself in your attendees’ shoes, and consider what their experience will be like. Plan for breaks, as well as a method of submitting questions and answers. 

A few more things to consider:

  • Will you create take-away content to be delivered in advance?
  • Are you going to record the event so that attendees can view it again later?
  • Should you put together a guide explaining how to logon, access content, ask questions, and contact other attendees?
  • Will you use features to drive engagement, like live polling and Q&A capabilities?
  • What’s the goal for this event? Lead acquisition, registration numbers, surveys, or another KPI?
  • Do you have a backup plan if there are connectivity issues?
  • Are you charging for the event? How will you accept/process payments?
  • How will attendees network and connect with each other?

Preparing Your Attendees

Not all of your attendees will have the same level of technical know-how, so make sure to offer clear instructions for how to register, how to join, what kind of device they’ll need, and the means to test their device and connection before the event. Consider writing a guide or recording an instructional video and distributing it well before the event so that you won’t be overwhelmed with day-of questions.

Post-Event Follow Up

If your event is focused on networking, be sure to have guests submit their names, work emails, and job titles so that they can get in touch during and after the event. Also, within 24 hours of the end of the event, send your participants an email thanking them for attending. 

You can include other items, such as:

  • A copy of slides or a recording of the event/presentation.
  • A non-intrusive plan to connect with other attendees after the event.
  • Invitations to future events, links to your social pages, or how to subscribe to your newsletter.
  • A survey to provide feedback on the event. 
  • An invitation to schedule a demonstration of your product.
  • Links to blog posts or whitepapers that are relevant to what you talked about.

Just remember, the event isn’t over when the web connection ends. A virtual networking event is a great way to make new connections, broaden your network, and meet new and interesting people. Make the most of it!

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