Virtual networking events can go both ways. Either you connect with people and have a long-lasting relationship with them, or it can go so bad that they will avoid you like the plague in the future. How your networking event will end up depends greatly on one thing, your planning.
Understand The Purpose Of The Event
To plan for a networking event, especially a virtual one, you must first understand why you are attending them. You need to internalize the purpose and goals of the event. The purpose of most, if not all, networking events are to build relationships. However, you need to look deeper than that.
Some questions you need to ask are:
- “Why was the event organized?”
- “Who are the participants?”
- “What fields or industries are the participants from?”
You then need to ask yourself, “What is your ultimate goal in joining this event?” By understanding these things, you will be able to prepare for the event properly.
Learn About The Participants
Learning about the people you will meet will prepare you for how you can approach them. For example, you can use a participant’s interests or business to start a conversation with them. By learning about the person, you can also prepare your talking points specifically for him or her.
Furthermore, you can avoid awkward conversations by avoiding things that you know are not interesting to them. Most virtual networking event organizers share the list of participants beforehand. If not, you can ask them for it.
Prepare Interesting Questions Or Topics
Awkward silences are worse than gibberish. Some people may interpret them as not being compatible with others. By having some questions or topics prepared, you can prevent this uneasy scenario from happening. More importantly, you will not forget to ask things you are interested in.
Here are some suggested topics or questions you can ask other participants:
- “What field/industry are you in?”
- “How can I help you with your business/practice/job?”
- “How did you learn about the networking event?”
- “How can I connect with you in the future?”
- Interesting trivia about your own business/practice/job
- Interesting facts about your location
- How your field/industry relates to theirs
Find Suitable Clothes For The Networking Event
Yes, you heard that right. Your outfit is still essential when joining virtual networking events. Besides avoiding embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions, your outfit conveys a message to other participants. It tells them how serious you are about the event and what your intentions are.
It can also affect how other people will approach or talk with you. Formal clothing will tell people to talk more seriously and be more reserved with you. Very casual clothing, on the other hand, will make people more easy-going around you. However, they may not take you seriously and think that you are not worth their time.
Prepare An Elevator Speech
An elevator speech is a short message you give people about you or an important topic you wish to share. It is usually three to five minutes long only. Its purpose is to quickly convey key aspects of your topic before the person you are talking to gets bored.
To prepare for an elevator speech, write down your speech with all the information you want to talk about. Write it as shortly as you can. Afterward, set and start a stopwatch. While the stopwatch is going, loudly read your speech the way you usually speak to other people.
After you finish reading your speech, stop the timer. If it is longer than your target time, revise the speech by first simplifying your sentences. Then, one by one, remove some of the topics. Start from the ones you believe to be least significant. Repeat the process above until your speech is around three to five minutes long.
Update Your Social Media And Networking Accounts
After networking, or sometimes even the event, people often check the social media or networking accounts of people they connected with. If your Facebook or Instagram is public, then there is a big chance that they will find it. This is also important to do before following up after the networking event.
So, before going to your networking event, hide posts that you think may work against your favor. Posts such as you ranting about the business of other participants are best kept to yourself. However, you should avoid overdoing this to the point that you become unauthentic.
For professionals, LinkedIn is a popular way to share their professional background. It can also act as an online curriculum vitae. So, it is always best that you update it with your latest projects, job positions, employers, and more.
Check Your Gadget, Internet, And Electricity
Last but not least, check your internet, computer, and electricity a few days before the event. Check with your local internet and electricity provider if there are any scheduled interruptions on the day of the event. Make sure that your internet can also handle video calls without lagging.
Try video calling another person for at least thirty minutes. Check if your video call keeps getting dropped or sounds or images are always delayed. If so, you should get a faster connection as soon as possible. The last thing that you want is irritating other people with you always leaving the call.
Are you ready to learn how to host your own virtual networking event? Social Hour can help.