Tech Tools to Help us Stay Connected
Any form of connection is desirable these days and with so many tech tools to help us stay connected all the time, networking opportunities can happen all year round. With robust community engagement platforms like Juno 365, your networking events can remain dynamic for your audience to make meaningful connections beyond tomorrow.
Creating virtual networking experiences that delight and engage your members can take some practice but with these tips and ideas, we hope creating a more dynamic and productive networking environment online can be easy.
Make it Easy to Join
Networking is going to look a lot different in a virtual setting and for a lot of your community, especially early on, they aren’t going to fully understand how to navigate or even use a platform to find the event.
Your job as an organizer is to not only provide the space for everyone to meet, you also need to educate community members on how to use the platform. Provide your community members with the right support information, videos, and FAQs that will help people navigate on their own. It can also be helpful to host a demo of the platform or even give your community members time to explore on their own. The last thing you want is for one community member to be panicking because they don’t know what link to click on. The great news is, this demo video can then be used again and again for each networking event.
Be sure to also provide a calendar link so everyone can add it to their preferred calendar apps. Make sure that link gets right to the point so all they have to do is click, login and start networking.
Prep Your Attendees
Organizers should prepare community members with the overall experience. What's happening during the event, what do people need, and who is attending?
Sharing a list of community members who are attending the networking event can be beneficial for members because they can begin to do research on what people do and what their interests are to get the most out of it.
Some platforms, like JUNO, offer Human Interest Modeling that can pair people automatically and generate recommendations for networking using AI engines and machine learning, so be sure you are using these incredible tools if they are available.
Lastly, prepare everyone for the actual networking event. Is it themed? Is there going to be a panel session, roundtable discussion, or is it a more casual and fun experience like wine and cheese tasting or networking with your pets. Whichever experience you create, be sure to get the word out so people can come prepared and excited to interact.
Make it Memorable and Encourage Engagement
If things are memorable, people will come back. At an in-person event, the sights, sounds, smells and overall emotional experience are what people remember, but when things go digital, things have to be reimagined. And in many ways, we have to step up our game.
Here are some great ideas to spark your creativity:
- Jeopardy, Pictionary or other trivia games - People love games, and they are a great way to connect with others. Utilize leaderboards and other gamification elements available in your platform.
- Pre-event photo contest - Who has the cutest pet? Who has the best amateur photographer skills? Make it match with the theme of the event. Attendees can use polling during the event to vote for their favorite and the winner can win a special prize.
- Virtual wine and cheese or coffee tasting - Provide attendees with a small artisanal selection and personal branded coffee press or wine opener pre-event. Great for smaller gatherings or as incentive for a great intellectual discussion or roundtable. This event could even be sponsored to cover some of the cost.
- Virtual dinner party - Dining together has always been a great way to connect. Scrap the food budget and logistics, and it’s even better.
- Talent show - Let your attendees show off their own talents with a virtual talent show.
- Hire a band - Live music is loved by everyone. Hire a live band and stream it out pre- and post- session to engage your attendees even more. Liven up the chat by asking what everyone is drinking as they enjoy the tunes.
- Interactive expert how-tos - Bring in an expert mixologist, florist or latte artist to teach your attendees a new creative skill that can be enjoyed by all.
- Scavenger hunts - Utilize breakout rooms by splitting attendees into small teams as they hunt for items in their own homes that fit into your theme. Leave room for creativity and give bonus points for out-of-the-box thinking.
- Virtual “speed dating” with rotating 1:1s - Utilize breakouts for smaller, timed 1:1s. Give attendees an ice-breaker to get started whether it be business-related or more personal and watch the connections fly!
- Interest-based clubhouses - Let your attendees gather on their own in interest-themed rooms where free-flowing conversation and chat can occur.
- Wellness breaks - Get hearts pumping and incorporate a short yoga or stretch session as a break between industry-relevant discussions.
- Watch parties - Create virtual screenings or movie nights so attendees can bond over something they would probably be doing at home anyway.
It can be a challenging task to make a virtual event experience memorable, but a big part of that is staying committed and engaged with the experience. If your platform offers engagement tools like emojis, leaderboards, Q&A and polling, make sure you incorporate them into your networking events.
Get out of your comfort zone or offer something that might not be offered in-person. What works in-person doesn’t always work digitally, and vice versa! Try to create one unique event online so people get used to it and will look forward to it month after month.