Updated: Jul 19, 2020
The event industry is experiencing turbulent times due to COVID-19. Event planners across the country are canceling conferences to protect employees and attendees.
While taking safety precautions like this is necessary, it can be frustrating. It's trying times for us all—but event planners are being hit especially hard.
If you had to cancel your event, we invite you to explore virtual networking solutions.
With today's technology, your attendees can still network, even if they can't meet in person.
Download our free Ebook: Virtual Networking Solutions: What To Do When You Can't Meet In-Person
1. Targeted Connections Virtual Networking
Targeted Connections is a virtual networking solution that lets participants pre-select the types of people they're interested in meeting.
It's simple and 100% digital. Participants can register through email in less than a minute. During registration, they'll fill out a short survey, detailing the types of people they want to connect with.
The survey data will then run through a matching algorithm. This algorithm will create virtual matches for each participant at the touch of a button.
And now, they can connect via email, phone, or even video conference from the safety of their own homes.
It's targeted networking, without a dedicated session.
2. Webinar With Virtual Networking Breaks
Webinars are a fantastic platform for delivering relevant content. They're easy to dial in to and because they in real-time, attendees feel more engaged and connected.
Offer 30-45 minute break sessions throughout your webinar. During these, encourage your attendees to take part in a virtual networking session. Simply provide a list of Targeted Connections and encourage attendees to start connecting.
It's as simple as that!
3. Virtual Networking Power Hour
Schedule a virtual networking power hour for your members! Provide a list of Targeted Connections for each member and encourage them to try to connect with every person on their list in an hour.
All they need to do is schedule 10-minute calls with each contact.
You can even provide a list to participants with items to discuss. Think of them as virtual icebreakers. Here are top networking icebreaker questions.
4. LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn groups are a great way to connect with people from specific industries. You can browse through posts and participate in discussions or create engaging conversations of your own.
5. Facebook Groups
Believe it or not, there are Facebook groups for just about everything—and everyone—out there. This is another good place to find like-minded professionals and have engaging conversations.
But before any of this, we could all use a little refresher on virtual networking etiquette and tips.
Virtual Networking Tips:
Gratitude goes a long way. These are trying times for everyone. We're all feeling the stress and anxiety that results from a crashing economy. Still, no matter the circumstances, practicing gratitude is a virtual networking best practice.
If someone is taking time out of their day to connect with you, say thank you and show your sincere appreciation.
Make an introduction.
When you can, bring people together to help move the world forward or elevate a conversation. Humanity will be better off because of it.
Practice "digital" listening.
Digital listening is simply the process of monitoring digital media channels. Listen and observe to understand how to proceed.
Ask for help.
No one knows everything and you're not in this alone. Don't be afraid to ask for help. When you do, you're laying the foundation for a strong, meaningful connection. It's true what they say; everyone you meet has something to teach you.
Be a problem solver.
Solving problems is a great way to bring value. In fact, one of the best ways to become a billionaire in the 21st century is to problem-solve in a massive scale. But being respected in the online space sometimes requires the same focus. Problem solvers rock!
Think beyond your borders.
When you travel the world, you see that it's bigger than what's happening on one city block or even one continent. We should all act locally and think globally.
Join online communities.
From Facebook and LinkedIn to Google+ and beyond, this time is all about seeking out groups that will help you succeed. They exist. Take the time to fit the ones that fit your ambitions.
Create social media events.
Small gatherings and big conferences based on social media are all the rage. They will continue to surge as people look for ways to connect with online friends in real life.
As our founder, Michael Slater, always says, "Meeting people face-to-face is very important. Social media should never be a replacement for real-life connection." However, when you can't meet face-to-face, social media can be the next best thing.
Use empowering language.
Your tone is very important when you're relationship-building—and this is especially true when you can't meet in person. Words like "collaborate", "inspire", "we", "us", and "our" always seem to get it right.
Comment on blog posts.
Like a blogger's analysis or perspective on an article? Let them know! Our words have a ton of power. And this is a great way to connect with people in your industry.
Pay a sincere compliment.
We all give compliments, but when we are genuine, they have a greater impact.
Make image quotes for your supporters.
Struggling to find a way to reciprocate the kindness of your online supporters? Or trying to get the attention of someone you admire in the social space? Create image quotes using their own words, and then post them. This is a great approach for business as well.
Build coalitions beyond "follower count".
We should never define someone by their number of followers, friends or connections. Don't miss out on a life-changing opportunity because you link '500 Twitter followers' with the phrase "not influential". Numbers don't always tell the whole story.
Believe you have something to offer.
The old saying, "it starts with us" is true. So, believe in your idea. Test your idea. Fail. Fail again. Learn from your mistakes and then impact billions of lives for the better.
Network outside of your field.
Getting to know people outside of your profession is growth! A scientist might be a supporter of targeted philanthropy and a philanthropist might be a big supporter of science in schools. These two people should know each other, right? Right! Someone outside of your circle just may give you the support you need.
Collaborate on a project.
A lot of our best work comes when we join forces with others. An extra pair of eyes or another creative presence might be what it takes to give your new project that "WOW factor".
Find common ground.
We should celebrate the things that make us stand out as well as those that bring us together. What we have in common can be the starting point for historic agreements and lasting achievements. So, what are you waiting for? Tap into it!
Be a go-giver.
Service and philanthropy are not only good for a business's bottom line and customer relations, but they're also good for an individual's spirit. There is so much power in giving. It finds its way back to you, in one way or another.
Make happiness a habit.
Did you know happiness makes the brain work better? It's science. When we're happy, we're 12% more productive. It also draws people towards us. So, be as happily magnetic as you can to be!
Add video to the mix.
Video has been been an important aspect of social media for years, but it is now a staple. It can take your engagement strategy to the next level. Don't be afraid to branch out and give it a try.
Need a new website design or a banner for your social media headers but don't have the money? Reach out to someone who can do it, and give them something of equal value in return.
Tell a great brand story.
Whether a big brand or one's personal brand, we all have a story. Where it all started, what our purpose is, where we are going, what inspires us, and so on. Every brand has a story. And it's worth sharing as authentically, passionately, and consistently as possible. Because who doesn't love a good story?
Do a Google Hangout or Skype.
These are popular communication tools that can give you some much-needed face time. It's easy to feel alone or isolated during these times of social distancing. Schedule a Google Hangout or Skype call with coworkers, family, or friends.
Heck, schedule a Google Hangout happy hour while you're at it.
Be happy for others' success.
Congratulate people! It takes nothing away from you and what you are ultimately striving for.
Be the example.
When you can walk the walk the way you talk the talk, you develop a sterling reputation. And your reputation is your currency. Get rich!
Happy virtual networking!