Networking in a Virtual World
February 19, 2021. By Ashley Agnew:
While there is hope ahead for gatherings larger than our respective predisposed or chosen “bubbles”, there is still likely quite a way to go before we see in-person conferences or networking events take place. Some economists are predicting, in fact, that over the next several years we will be spending nearly 90% of our time in alternate or virtual realities by way of communicating via social media, gaming, chatbots, and digital conferencing or collaboration tools. Many of us can agree that given the instant immersion brought on by the pandemic, this prediction does not seem that out of the question.
Outside of client meetings, perhaps the most missed element of human-to-human events is networking. Digital platforms have come a long way, however, and there are ways to adapt to meeting in this way that can enhance the digital networking experience. Here are a few tips to be best prepared for your next virtual networking event:
- Go For a Test Drive, and Give Plenty of Time to Log In. Prior to the event, test your systems to ensure that your audio and webcam are optimized for the service being used. Some more advanced platforms, such as Remo, allow you to build out a profile and shareable business card. In many cases, these profiles will be saved so that you can take your test drive days before the actual event. In any case, always allow 10 to 15 minutes for trouble shooting and registration needs.
- Have Your Links Handy, and Use the Chat Feature. Gone are the days of handing out a paper business card, and they will not return as long as we are remote networking. Have your key links and your signature block ready on a Word Doc so that you can easily copy and paste them into chat boxes at the event in order to share with interested parties. These may include links to your bio page, company home page, LinkedIn, etc. Chat boxes allow you to connect with individuals or entire groups. Take advantage of these at all networking events, as you can often share pdfs and photos along with the above mentioned items to make a more memorable connection.
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings. In addition to checking your sound and webcam, be aware of what is presented in your background and how you are framed. Shawn Mills of My Biz Media notes that for your best presentation, keep your eyes in the top third of the screen, avoid harsh backlighting, and be very selective if using a filtered background because while these may add personality, they can also be very distracting.
- Take Advantage of the New Sponsorship Opportunities. With lower overall costs to host digitally as opposed to in-person (think catering, space rental, etc.) sponsorship opportunities for virtual events are also more cost effective. Additionally, the visibility is often much greater than that of an in-person event. It is worth inquiring with event hosts to see where you can take advantage of sponsorship opportunities whether it be virtual banners, sponsored chat boxes, or time speaking to the crowd.
A number of our team members will be attending the XPX Annual Summit: Navigating the Detours on the Road to Success. The organization’s pinnacle conference will be held virtually this year on the Remo platform and we are looking forward to the enhanced networking opportunities as well as the advantages of participating as table sponsors. While we are all learning new ways to stay connected, we are glad that the organizations we are close to are putting in the effort to be innovative allowing us to continue to expand our knowledge and network in creative ways.