Networking not working? Use these 6 ideas to connect virtual event attendees

If you’re an event organizer or a marketer for your business, you’ll already know that networking is one of the most integral parts of virtual events.

In fact, a survey by Markletic  points to networking being the second most popular reason people choose to attend events, with educational reasons being the first. And it’s easy to understand why.Networking gives you the opportunity to build business relationships and learn more about different industries, and new job prospects. It opens up new doors for your career and business.

However, facilitating this at an event is also one of the trickiest to get right. 

At in-person events, a multitude of factors can result in a networking session proving ineffective. The challenge for organizers has always been to create a space where attendees feel comfortable and confident, and are able to meet the right people. Now, thanks to virtual event platforms like Zuddl, organizers can do exactly that.

But finding a conducive virtual networking platform is just one part of the equation. Organizers need to be creative in coming up with ways to effectively leverage the features of the platform.  Lucky for you, we’ve done the hard work already and come up with 6 ways you can boost networking at your next virtual event.

Virtual networking ideas for external events (virtual conferences, trade shows, summits, etc.)

1. Pre-event/Pre-session chat

There’s no rule stating that networking needs to occur at a specific time at your virtual event, so why not start even before your event begins? Create a private space for attendees to connect and chat with each other ahead of the event kickoff. This makes socializing at the virtual event less awkward for attendees.

Creating a pre-event chat can help to take the stress away from having to find someone to talk to at the virtual conference. Connecting with even one other person ahead of time can make attendees feel more comfortable and confident in attending the event and meeting others, and can even embolden them to participate more during the event.

Setting up a pre-session chat is another way to create a low-pressure, fun space where like-minded attendees can make connections.

2. Birds of a feather sessions

Organizing birds of a feather sessions is one of the most effective virtual networking event ideas you could implement. It’s basically hosting a breakout activity that is based on a shared interest during the event.

Similar to the pre-session chat, the birds of a feather session act as an informal and relaxed town hall-like space where like-minded attendees can chat about their interests, leading to potential collaboration. You can choose to invite a speaker to the session to facilitate group discussions, or you can make it more informal and simply encourage attendees to have unconstrained conversations about the topic. 

An important factor to be considered while organizing a BoF session is limiting attendance. This should be an intimate gathering so that every participant is comfortable and can talk easily.

3. Speed Networking

Speed networking, which works in a similar fashion to speed dating but with the advantage of AI-matchmaking, helps attendees connect with the right people at your virtual event.  For this activity, you will need a virtual event platform like Zuddl that has this feature capability (Click here to read more about our Zuddl’s Smart Networking platform feature in detail). 

Prior to entering Speed Networking, attendees will need to fill out profiles on the virtual event platform, that include their interests. When they enter the Speed Networking session, they will then be matched with attendees who share those interests for 1:1 video calls. It’s a great way for attendees to network with those in the same industry, or who are trying to solve the same problems. When matched attendees connect for their meeting, they can skip the small talk and get right down to business.

Speed Networking is great for use at internal events as well as it’s a simple yet effective way to bring together a remote workforce, and build connection and camaraderie. Zuddl, for instance, organizes a Speed Networking session every Friday so that colleagues from different teams who may not have much opportunity to connect and speak throughout the day, can meet and learn about each other. 

4. Pre-event photo competition

This simple activity can be a great way to interject more energy and fun into your online networking events. All you need to do is to ask your attendees to share a photo ahead of time - but keep in mind that this should be in line with your event. For example, if you are organizing a virtual wellness summit, you could ask attendees to share a photo of how they unwind after a long day. 

You can set up an Expo Booth at your virtual event venue (check that your virtual event platform has this feature), at which you can display the photos, and promote a visit to the Booth via social media or email to registered attendees. This way, attendees will be able to learn the names, businesses, and personalities of other attendees before the event begins - and can seek them out for 1:1’s if they spot a potential business collaboration.

Virtual networking ideas for internal events (company offsites, company meetings, team building, etc.)

5. Gamify your event

Gamification is one of the most effective and fun networking ideas on our list because of the way it encourages attendees to get to know each other. Through gamification, you can assign points to specific activities to be carried out by attendees, such as taking part in a group conversation in a Breakaway Room, or connecting with an attendee for a 1:1 video call. And you can award prizes to attendees with the most points!

Using a virtual event platform like Zuddl which has a Gamification feature can make this entire process even easier. Simply create your point distribution list, set up a displayed leaderboard, and you’re ready to go! (Click here to read more about how Zuddl’s gamification takes engagement to the highest level.)

6. Virtual watch parties or karaoke

If you’re looking for a lighthearted and fun way to get colleagues together as your virtual company meeting winds down or during the day when people need a breather from sessions, a virtual watch party or karaoke session might be just the ticket. There’s nothing like singing a terrible rendition of ‘We are the champions’ to bond a group of people together.

While you can run this activity in any virtual meeting space, you might find using a virtual event platform that has Breakout Rooms (like Zuddl) advantageous. In a Room, a small group of people can chat with each other via a video call - but that’s not all. You can also at the same time watch a presentation or video being played on Stage. So, just like a virtual watch party, you can take in a movie and react to it and discuss it in real-time. 

In conclusion...

One of the most integral parts of organizing a virtual event is providing your attendees with an opportunity to network with each other. This can be in different shapes and forms as you can see.  With the virtual networking ideas, we’ve shared, you should be able to create a delightful experience that your attendees will value and remember. 

If you need any help setting up networking at your next event, or want to know more about how to make all aspects of your event more value-driven and effective, just let us know. Talk to our team!

Zuddl is a unified platform for events and webinars that helps event marketers plan and execute events that drive growth. The platform has clients across the globe, such as the United Nations, Kellogg’s, Microsoft, HSBC, VMware, Google, StackCommerce and Cipla amongst others. In January 2022, Zuddl announced that it closed $13.35 mn in Series A funding.

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