How to Host a Virtual Networking Event

Learn how to host a Virtual Networking Event with these simple steps!

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the popularity of various virtual events, virtual networking events remain unique compared to the others. 


A virtual networking event is solely about connection and interaction between attendees. There might be other elements to incorporate like keynotes or webinar sessions, but keeping the attendees engaged by letting them connect with each other. 


In traditional, in-person networking events, there are physical elements like passing out business cards and together enjoying foods/drinks that can help enhance the whole experience, but we can’t rely on those elements when hosting a virtual networking event. 


This is why planning a virtual networking event would take a little planning, and you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll discuss all you need to know about how to host a virtual networking event. 


How To Host a Virtual Networking Event: Tips and Tricks

Define a Clear and Specific Objective

Why do you want to host a virtual networking event in the first place?

Defining a clear objective first can significantly help in planning a successful virtual networking event, and will help you in determining other elements of the event like the number of attendees, who to invite, and others. 

Here are some examples of objectives you can consider: 

  • Building relationships with influencers and industry experts
  • Boosting team’s morale
  • As an internal event bridging co-workers in different locations


Who To Invite and How Many

As discussed, in a networking event, the attendees are the main attraction. And a virtual networking event can be quite challenging to manage compared to the in-person counterpart if you don’t get the right attendees and the right number of attendees. 

Why? In a face-to-face networking event, it’s common that attendees will avoid and prefer certain attendees depending on their preferences, and people can more easily create small groups. We won’t have these luxuries in a virtual event. 

It’s best to keep the number of attendees small, ideally eight or fewer, and it’s crucial to get the right mix of people. It’s best to group people with similar backgrounds and/or experiences to maintain engagement.

Plan Your Technology Stack Carefully

In any virtual event, including the virtual networking event, preparing the right technology stack is crucial, and it’s common for virtual event organizers to have up to 75% of their budget go to technology solutions. 

Even in the most basic virtual networking event, you’ll need to consider the following technologies:

  • Registration and check-in: making it as easy and seamless as possible for attendees you’ve invited to join the event
  • Video conferencing: pretty self-explanatory, will be where the virtual networking event takes place
  • Attendee tracking: tracking who’s connected to whom, and what your attendees are doing while attending the virtual networking event
  • Attendee management: managing your attendees like facilitating the check-in, controlling meetings between different attendees, and so on.
  • Event surveys: conducting pre and post-event surveys to improve the attendee’s experience


Our recommendation is to invest in an all-in-one online event platform so you don’t have to worry about integrating different disconnected tools and can focus on planning and hosting a successful event. 


Introduce The Attendees To Each Other

It’s best to introduce the attendees to each other a couple of days before the event. You can send an email or a message to all attendees listing: 

  • Short description of each attendee
  • Social media handles, especially LinkedIn profile
  • An interesting fact about the person (you can ask each of them beforehand, make sure to get their permission before sharing)


Also, don’t forget to communicate the agenda of the event and remind them about the start time. 


Plan a Structure

It’s best to design at least a loose structure of the virtual networking event. You don’t need to have a tight agenda, but you should at least loosely draft what will happen throughout the event. 


The goal here is to guarantee someone always has something to talk about at any given time during the event. Avoid awkward silence at all costs. 


For example, you should list potential questions to ask that might encourage attendees to share anecdotes. We’ll discuss this in more detail in the following tip. 


Moderating The Conversation

To maintain interest and engagement between your audience, it’s crucial to have a good moderator to help in building the conversation, breaking the ice, and prevent any of the attendees from dominating the conversation, as well as steering back the meeting in the right direction when it’s gone astray. 


Encourage attendees to share their story about a certain interesting topic, and build the conversation to encourage the back and forth banter. Keep track of who hasn’t had a chance to share and direct your questions to them to maintain balance. 


Also, minimize interruptions by imposing rules, for example asking your attendees to give virtual hand raises before you’ll unmute them so they can’t interrupt who’s currently speaking. 

Timing Is Key

An ideal virtual networking event should be no more than 90 minutes. Most people will get bored if they are stuck on a video conferencing event for that long. On the other hand, depending on the number of attendees you’ll need enough time to create engaging and not-rushed conversations. 


So, ideally, the event should be between 60 to 90 minutes long. The quality of time spent is also important. Allow attendees to share interesting stories, ask quality questions to encourage engaging conversations, and so on. 


Closing Thoughts

Most if not all virtual networking events are about building relationships, so it’s crucial to design the event to facilitate conversations and interactions as much as possible. 


Don’t forget to thank your attendees after the virtual networking event. You can easily do this by sending an email to everyone, and you can also conduct a post-event survey to gather their feedback. 


While a virtual networking event can’t completely replace an-in person cocktail party or other networking events, it can provide unique experiences and benefits for all attendees involved.

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