13 Virtual Networking Tips – Small Business Trends

It wasn’t long when networking events consisted of looking into colleagues’ eyes and shaking hands. Today, co-workers are spread across the globe, working together remotely from single home offices. But a lack of physical closeness doesn’t necessarily mean that we give up on valuable communication events. In the meantime, virtual networks have emerged as a leading trend among small and large businesses.

What are virtual networks?

What are virtual networks? Virtual networking occurs when colleagues, assistants, and co-workers communicate from remote locations via virtual event technology, including your choice of video conferencing platform. VPN events can happen through traditional video conferencing meetings or a host of other types of unique VPN events.

Benefits of Virtual Networks

There are many reasons why more small businesses are jumping on the VPN bandwagon. Hosting VPN events for your teams and colleagues offers the following benefits:

  • Building better working relationships When colleagues communicate with others using video conferencing tools, they are able to build closer working relationships, which can enhance teamwork and productivity.
  • Save money Hosting a virtual networking event can be as fun and promote as much teamwork as an in-person event, but the cost of hosting virtual events is lower than their counterparts.
  • Include more people – While attendees must be nearby to attend the in-person networking event, anyone can attend a virtual event from anywhere in the world. All guests to attend a virtual networking event require an internet connection and a computer or mobile device.
  • Enjoy VPN events are great ways to break the monotonous work schedule. Colleagues who spend quality time together can return to their core projects refreshed and with a greater sense of teamwork.
  • stay healthy – VPN events are attended remotely, so you don’t have to worry about wearing masks, social distancing, or spreading disease. Anyone in the virtual event can smile and relax!

VPN tips before the event

It can take a lot of work to host a virtual networking event, so planning and figuring out all you can about how to host a virtual event is key. The following tips will help you plan a successful virtual network event in the days leading up to the event:

1. Setting goals

What do you want to achieve during your virtual network event? Make sure to define and define your goals for the virtual event before selecting guests, speakers, or activities.

2. Select the guests

Who will you invite to the Virtual Networking event? Be sure to choose an appropriate number of guests for the planned activities, and include speakers and other participants who will help achieve your goals.

3. Send a calendar invitation

Make sure to give your guests plenty of advance notice of the VPN event. By sending out a calendar invitation, you can announce and promote the event, while providing attendees with a convenient reminder of the important date.

4. Be aware of time differences

While including attendees from different locations is an advantage for virtual networking events, hosting guests from multiple locations can complicate schedules when there are significant time differences. When scheduling your virtual network event, be sure to keep in mind that some attendees may be in a specific time zone, while other attendees may be on a separated schedule.

5. Choose your tools

What video conferencing tools or virtual event platforms will you use to host your virtual network event? Popular platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams are available to host and attend virtual events. Make sure you choose tools that will advance the goals of your event, and make sure the platform is evaluable for all attendees.

6. Promote your virtual event

Even if you have already filled out your guest list, it is important to market your virtual event. Promoting a virtual networking event through email, social media, and even via a website helps to start engaging guests with your content and with each other, and it also generates excitement for what’s to come.

Tips during the virtual event

So, you have carefully planned and prepared for successful virtual networking events. What now? On the important day, be sure to keep the following tips in mind during the virtual event:

7. Start with Introductions

To enhance audience participation, it is important that guests feel comfortable with the speakers and with each other. Start your virtual event with introductions and make sure everyone knows who to connect with. An ice breaker can do wonders for a communication ball.

8. Take advantage of sub-sessions

You can still host a successful networking event even if your group is too large for everyone to welcome it. Take advantage of breakout sessions for small group networking. Designate breakout rooms in your video conference session to promote more one-on-one participation.

9. Encourage structured conversation

It is positive to have meaningful conversations in a virtual world. Instead of a virtual event filled with unstructured chatter, encourage structured conversations that help achieve your event goals. Suggest strategic topics and, if possible, lead the group through its discussions.

10. Finish hard and on time

Be sure to keep an eye on the time during your virtual event. If you promoted a virtual 90-minute networking event, make sure you stick to that time frame even if everyone is still engrossed in positive annoyances after 88 minutes. Plan to end your virtual event on a strong note, and issue a call to action that includes your goals for the event.

Post-VPN Event Tips

The recipe for virtual event success does not end when the grid ends. Just as you’ll make a follow-up sales call after an important presentation, you’ll want to check in with attendees after a virtual networking session. So, be sure to follow these tips for business networking.

11. Sending Thanks

Ensure your interaction with your guests and maximize interaction with your guests after your virtual network event by emailing words of gratitude to participants and attendees. Let them know their attendance was appreciated, and get them excited for the next virtual event.

12. Ask for feedback

No matter how smooth your virtual event runs, there is always room for improvement. Check it out and ask attendees for their valuable opinions after the networking event. When possible, apply these suggestions to future hypothetical events.

13. Promote future events

It’s never too early to start promoting your next VPN events. When thanking your guests and asking for their feedback, be sure and start getting excited for future events, whether it’s a virtual networking or a live event.

Virtual Networking Event Ideas

Are you hoping to build relationships with colleagues during a virtual networking event, but aren’t sure what type of event to host? Your team can take the time to network and have fun in a variety of ways, including the following virtual event ideas:

Side rooms

Sub-rooms are designed to divide larger audiences into smaller groups that can better interact with each other, and encourage participation in networking events. Many video conferencing platforms allow groups to split into breakout rooms before returning to the main event.

Networking speed

Networking speed allows participants to form many new connections with colleagues and potential clients in a short period of time. Large groups are divided into breakout rooms, but they only meet for a few minutes before the groups are rearranged and communication begins again.

virtual happy hour

Groups can participate in the virtual happy hours by sharing a cocktail or mocktail recipe in advance. Then, during the virtual networking event, attendees can enjoy their own drinks from the comfort and safety of their homes and offices.

Question and Answer

The audience can connect with a group of speakers during a question-and-answer session. Instead of all attendees talking to each other, virtual event guests can learn more about a small group of speakers. Encouraging the audience to ask questions is a great way to encourage individual participation.

Moderated discussions

Much like a question-and-answer session that can introduce an audience to a small group of speakers, a moderated discussion is a great way to connect between groups of like-minded individuals. Topics can be brought up by the session moderator or event host, and the discussion can be structured to support the goals of the event.

book clubs

You don’t have to meet your peers in person to enjoy participating in a book club. If you have a group of book lovers, set titles that everyone can read and discuss during virtual networking events.

wine tasting

Like a virtual happy hour, wine tasting can be done remotely. Attendees can choose their own wine to enjoy during the video conference, or the group can decide which flavors you’ll try together.

dinner parties

Even classic dinner parties now can happen as virtual events. Instead of meeting colleagues and eating together, the organization can deliver meals to each home office prior to the virtual event…or they can provide gift cards to guests so they can create their own feasts to enjoy via the video app.

Photo: Depositphotos

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