You’re a people person. It’s okay to admit it!
Some people liken people-people to golden retrievers – you know, always ready to have some fun. When really, it’s just your extroverted qualities that make virtual networking events your favorite cup of tea.
Or favorite ice cream flavor. Whichever one floats your boat!
If you can’t tell by now, even just the thought of hosting a virtual networking makes us excited. (You just can’t see us jumping up and down from behind the keyboard.)
So with our step by step guide, we want to arm you with the power of building relationships. Because networking is what business – and life – is all about.
Before your virtual networking events
When you decide to host a virtual networking, you’re not just taking on any walk in the park. For a particularly successful virtual networking event, you’ll want to put your best foot forward.
#1. Set some goals for a great event
This might seem silly. After all, a virtual networking event is about networking, right?
But focusing on your goals will actually help you set the tone for the event. Are you after building business relationships?
Do you have a target audience in mind? Are you simply looking to build an online community? Or is this a group of people that you hope to someday greet at an in-person event?
All of these questions and more will dictate how you host virtual networking events. And setting these intentions beforehand will only help you out even before the event starts.
#2. Pick out your virtual event tech
There are plenty of platforms out there. But you’ll want to go with a virtual event platform that you know well.
If you’re going after a casual virtual happy hour, don’t worry too much about getting some snazzy technology. But if you’ve got a guest speaker or want virtual guests to engage in speed networking, consider a video conferencing platform that can accommodate.
#3. Invite the right number of event attendees
Not everyone does well at large events and not everyone does well at small events. So ask yourself whether you want to host a small group or a large group.
Then factor in the attendees you’re planning to invite. While video calls are great, it can still be difficult for some to engage in social interaction across a virtual platform.
So if you’re simply looking to generate leads or gather like-minded individuals together, consider the scope of what you can handle as event host. And trust that the event’s success will come naturally.
#4. Create a structure to the virtual networking event
Will there be breakout rooms? Do you want attendees to actively hunt down job opportunities at this virtual networking event?
Is this a meeting for industry professionals to offer valuable feedback? Or for potential clients to make meaningful connections and later receive a follow up sales call?
We know there are a lot of questions. But again, answering them will help you create a solid structure to the event.
Not only will you manage to build relationships out of the event itself. You’ll also give attendees an efficient use of their time.
(We’ve all been to that one online networking event that went on wayyyy too long, right? Hey, no naming names!)
During the virtual networking events
Alright, you’ve arrived at the day of your virtual networking event! Yay! … Now what?
#5. Introduce guests and greet them warmly
Back when in-person events were a thing, a host would greet you at the door. So why not replicate that in your virtual networking event?
Make sure that everyone who signs on gets greeted by the virtual networking event hosts. That way, attendees will know who to speak to if any questions come up lately.
Additionally, this will help attendees put a name to a face. Odds are you’ve been planning this virtual networking event for awhile and so they simply know you by your email signature!
#6. Have some icebreakers in your back pocket
If people are calling in from different locations, ask them to introduce where they’re calling in from. Sure, this might not be the most original way to open up a virtual networking event.
But it helps to orient everyone in the same time and place. (Well, not literally, but you know what we mean.)
Besides, every networking session should start with a couple of icebreakers. Just to get other attendees comfortable and aware of which other professionals are in the room.
#7. Hire a virtual MC to facilitate the virtual space
Then again, coming up with all the icebreakers yourself is kind of a big responsibility. After all, you’ve been working on every other detail for this virtual event!
Luckily, you’ve got some powerful allies here at Clean Comedians who know how to get virtual events started. So if you’re unsure of how to facilitate online networking events, hire out a virtual MC for the evening!
They’ll know how to make sure your live event is engaging and maybe even just like an in-person experience. Despite there being computer screens up front, everyone will think they’re in a theater.
#8. Bring in a virtual comedian to break the ice
And if you don’t want somebody else at the mic throughout all of your virtual events, bring in some corporate entertainment for a short act! Successful virtual networking events thrive off of entertainment.
Because even if attendees can’t find anything to talk about, then at least there’s a show they all have in common! We get it might be tempting to bring in a VIP speaker.
And that’s always a good route to go. But don’t underestimate the power of laughter and how it can get attendees networking like there’s no tomorrow!
#9. Assess whether breakout sessions are necessary
Most of the time, a virtual networking session will tell you what it needs. Say the networking sessions aren’t quite working with such a big group.
Break them up into different virtual rooms! And what’s better yet?
Get a member of your sales team in each room so attendees have a point person to ask questions to. A lot of networking is about going with the flow.
So make sure your own virtual networking events maintain a level of fluidity. Just to see where the evening takes you.
#10. Set a fixed time to end
Yes, it is important that the event ends on time. It’s not only a respectful way to show attendees that you’re being mindful of their time.
But you eliminate the risk of running your event into the ground. Meaning your event goes longer than anyone anticipated but was too polite to point out.
You can certainly try to have an open-ended event, just to see how attendees like it. But don’t be surprised if this very feedback shows up on your post event survey when you’re planning your next event!
Bonus: What Is Observational Humor?
After your virtual networking events
What? You thought all your work was done? Not even…
#11. Send a follow up email to share thanks
After the event, it’s important to send a follow up email to thank attendees for coming. And if there were any additional reminders you wanted to send attendees, an email is a great place to do it.
Not only do you keep the digital footprint of your event alive. You also remind attendees that there are many connections still to be made.
Maybe there was one person at the event they never got a chance to network with. Or maybe they find a connection with someone else after the event that leads to new business propositions down the line.
You never know what will come out of your event. So make sure you keep the momentum going even after the event itself has ended.
#12. Invite people to join a Facebook group for continued networking
If your event was an absolute smash (if you hire a virtual comedian, we know it will be), then keep that energy alive! Start an online group chat where folks can share their latest news.
Or even provide an email list of guests who want to keep connecting after the event. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get everyone at the networking event onboard.
After all, some may not even have a Facebook account! But offer it up as yet another opportunity for folks to enjoy.
All you’re doing is positioning them for success. Whether they take the bait is up to them.
Give yourself a pat on the back!
Boy, that was some work, huh? Well, your next virtual networking event shouldn’t feel like as much of a cross to bear.
You’ll have already done it once! But in all seriousness, networking events are a great way to bring folks together – whether it’s professional or personal.
So give yourself a pat on the back for making those connections happen. And if the planning process ever becomes too much to handle, remember that you can always count on us.
We’re people-people, remember? Networking is our jam! Our ice cream! Our hot fudge sundae with a rootbeer float on the side!
(Wow, that sounds really good right now.) But back to the point. Always know that you have us in your corner.
Whether you’re looking for someone to fill in as virtual event host. Or simply perform a comedy act to bring some cheer into the evening.
There are plenty of ways to keep your virtual networking events engaging and fun. And when in doubt, hire a people person to seal the deal!
Adam Christing is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC, and the founder of CleanComedians.com. He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular corporate entertainer, magician, and virtual speaker.