Replacing in-person interaction for online interaction was always going to make it more difficult for attendees to meet and interact with each other. But at the same time, it’s also where some serious value can be added to the attendee experience.
Compared to the abundance of content which online events are now renowned for, the ability to offer B2B networking sessions can be a real differentiator, setting you apart from all the other online events out there.
So to get you up and running, we’re going to walk you through the best practices of networking at an online event and show you how this can be done with an online events platform, like Eventtia.
1st: Create different attendee profiles for matchmaking
It might sound obvious, but the key to any successful networking session is to ensure that the right attendees are matching with each other. And by this, we mean the different types of attendee profiles which could be anything from buyers and sellers to recruiters and candidates.
Creating networking profiles enables you to distinguish between two or more types of attendees to meet at a given networking session, making it possible to connect those with a real interest in meeting each other.
To show you how to get this set up with Eventtia, check out this article on our knowledge base.
2nd: Ask people to specify their interests in the registration form or their profile once registered
In order to ensure top quality meetings, it’s worth encouraging attendees to fill out their registration form in as much detail as possible. This gives attendees a much clearer view of who they’ll be scheduling meetings with and will ensure a much higher standard of networking at the event.
Of course, you don’t want this to deter attendees from registering their event, so at this stage, just make sure to make the essentials compulsory like the name, email address, company and anything else deemed necessary.
Then in the build-up to the event, make sure to mention in your reminder emails that attendees should go into the virtual stage and fill out their profile. Mention how this has a big say on the overall quality of the networking meetings to add some added incentive to your attendees. Then finally, on the day of the event, you can also send out push notifications with a final reminder.
3rd: Schedule the networking sessions as part of the online event program
If you’re looking to engage your attendees and keep them focused, then it’s important that your event offers variety. And by this we’re not referring to different keynotes, Q&As or other types of content, we’re talking about incorporating networking sessions into your online event program.
This is going to work wonders on your attendees, offering them a much-needed break away from the content provides a great way of interacting. As a general rule of thumb, sandwich networking sessions in between the content to mix things up and be sure to never have them at the start or end of the event. Also, keep the sessions relatively short, around 15 minutes to ensure maximum attendee engagement.
4th: Make the agenda of each networking participant public
Encouraging attendees to schedule and participate in networking sessions boils down to one thing, making things as easy as possible for them. That’s why it’s vital that attendees can check each other’s agendas when scheduling meetings.
With this arrangement, every attendee has full access to the agendas of others, knowing when they’re available to schedule a meeting. And, in cases where an attendee won’t be able to participate in the sessions, they can change their agenda to show that they’re busy.
Importantly, this eliminates any guesswork and means that attendees can schedule meetings with peace of mind that they’ll be able to attend the meeting (providing that they accept it of course).
5th: Send your attendees a demo video explaining how the networking works and add this to your virtual stage
To get attendees up to scratch with how networking works, create some short demo tutorial videos. This should walk attendees through each part of the networking process, from filling out your profile all the way through to checking the agenda of other attendees and scheduling meetings.
First, you’ll want to include this in any pre-event comms going out to your attendees, which should be in the form of a special email explaining how the networking works. And second, you’ll want to embed this video into the virtual stage with other tutorials explaining how to use the event management software.
There’s no denying that video is a great way for attendees to learn about networking and the virtual stage as a whole because it’s practical and it makes things much easier to visualise. Now to give you an idea of what this video should look like, here’s a quick video we prepared for our attendees at Get Together.
6th: Encourage people to schedule one-on-one meetings before the event starts, but also enable the option during the event
To make sure that attendees get the most out of the dedicated networking sessions at your online event. Following on from the last point, it’s important that when any pre-event emails are sent out, attendees can access the virtual stage to schedule their meetings.
Not only will this encourage attendees to access the virtual stage and familiarise themselves with it, but it will also ensure that a good amount of meetings are scheduled in prior to the event starting. Importantly, this gives attendees plenty of time to check the profiles and agendas of others when time constraints won’t be as limited as on the day of the event.
Finally, to encourage the maximum amount of meetings make sure to have meetings enabled so that attendees can continue to schedule their meetings. This will ensure that any last-minute registrants will still be able to participate in the networking sessions.