Virtual summits can take your business to nauseous heights if you have proven networking hacks in your playbook.
Here’s the thing, there is more to virtual events than just joining a Skype conference call, picking out interesting people from the attendees to connect with, and sharing relevant info such as your business-level strategies.
You’ll need the right networking tactics to pique the interest of your target audience and to stand out from the crowd.
That’s what we’ll share in this guide.
Continue reading to learn reliable networking hacks to get more value out of your virtual summits.
Virtual summit: What is it and why network in one?
Simply put, a virtual summit is an online event that can be in many variations and includes multiple sessions.
Essentially, it consists of several back-to-back talks given by experts around a given theme, area, or niche.
This can include the various business-level strategies for companies in a specific industry or a more granular topic such as the crucial role that product photography plays in ecommerce marketing.
Complex forms of virtual summits can have multi-day events with one or many speakers, workshops, panels, or a combination of these things.
Virtual summits offer a treasure trove of networking opportunities. These provide a scalable way to connect with professionals that share your interests and issues, compared to an in-person business conference. (Learn the difference between a summit vs a conference.)
Some virtual summit platforms offer a meeting room with a networking lounge where you can start conversations with other participants through a chat feature.
Additionally, since everything is done online, you won’t have to scramble for time to meet everyone you want to in between sessions, allowing you to collect and exchange information easily.
5 virtual summit networking hacks
While networking on online events isn’t as challenging as learning how to run a meeting or conference yourself, it’s no walk in the park either.
We laid out these tips to help you get a running start on your virtual summit networking efforts.
1. Determine your networking goals
Data shows that 91% of participants consider keeping members connected as a primary goal of virtual events.
However, networking during virtual summits takes more planning and intentionality since there are zero chances of running into potential new connections while in line at a booth or during a rigorous business conference.
Identify your networking goals to focus your strategies. This helps you pin down where and how to invest your time and effort to secure relevant connections and grow your network.
Start by answering these questions.
- Who is the most crucial brand or person you want to connect with? Identify your ideal networking persona to help you answer this question and eliminate options that might not help you meet your overarching goal for joining the event. Knowing your target people and brands will also focus your networking efforts.
- How do you find your target connections? Determine the potential attendees of the virtual summit or business conference you’re joining days before the event. This helps you prepare the right strategies to approach your networking targets.
- How many people can you realistically connect with meaningfully? It can be tempting to cast a wide net and talk to as many people as possible, but this can take too much time and effort, leaving you with less than optimum results. Set a specific number of people to target to focus your efforts and establish more meaningful connections.
Share these goals with your team for accountability. This also ensures you are all on the same page when reviewing your virtual summit networking initiatives’ success (or failure).
2. Gather all information from the conference committee
Unlike a business meeting where you usually know the participants, virtual summits are attended by hundreds of people you might know before the event.
This can make networking challenging since you may not know whom to form relevant connections with and how to do it.
The solution? Cull the participant list before the event.
Most event organizers or the conference committee provide access to their event apps and guides in advance, allowing you and other attendees to know each others’ details and connect.
This lets you look at the attendee list to find your potential networking targets. You can then prioritize which participants to outreach pre and post-event through email, phone, or social media.
For instance, if the conference committee uses Whova, an all-in-one event management software for in-person, virtual, and hybrid events, you’ll see the list of attendees and their profiles on the app.
With this, you can identify your networking targets easily and reach out to the right people. Send them messages, exchange contact details, and get on a Skype conference call (if possible) for further and more meaningful conversations.
You can also leave a note about your networking targets in the app for easy reference later.
Knowing the virtual summit attendees before the event can give you the upper hand, helping you find the most relevant people to connect with and plan your approach accordingly.
3. Join a relevant meeting room
The average number of sessions per virtual event is 20, making it challenging to choose the right online summit meeting room to jump into to make your desired connections.
Sign up for a matchmaking service or utilize the automated tool the virtual summit conference committee uses to connect with like-minded attendees and join relevant meeting rooms.
For example, virtual event and networking platform Brella uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) for smart event matchmaking.
The platform matches and suggests the best people to meet based on your goals and mutual interests.
With this virtual summit networking feature, you can find (and be easily found by) relevant people to meet and build professional connections.
This also helps you narrow down and open conversation topics, such as the best methods to incorporate your email marketing and social media strategies.
You get information on your similar interests and backgrounds and join a highly relevant event meeting room.
4. Leverage your board meeting participation
If you’re a member of your company’s board or regularly attend a regular board meeting, include it in your registration bio.
This helps you gain some clout over other virtual summit attendees and your networking targets. Your connections are likely to put more credibility into the info and tips you share, from your business-level strategies to choosing the right ecommerce platforms for beginners.
Also, publicize your event attendance to get yourself out there and attract prospects and peers who might also participate in the virtual summit.
Share the event announcement through your website, social media pages, and online groups and include a bit of your virtual summit registration bio and your board meeting participation.
Use your role and involvement in your company’s board meeting sessions to effectively network with fellow virtual summit attendees.
5. Follow up and set up a business meeting
Stay on top of your established connections to keep them alive and make them last.
Do the following within the first three days after the virtual summit to help ensure networking success:
- Reach out to your event contacts through email and send them Thank you messages and requests for further discussions through a Skype conference call or other platforms.
- Go through social media platforms for hashtags or mentions of the virtual summit. Connect to individuals talking about the event and set up a business meeting for those with great collaboration, partnership, and even sales potential.
Use free tools such as Google Meet to hold a secure business meeting to deepen your connections and grow your network.
With your Google account, you can create a meeting for later, start an instant meeting, or schedule one in your Google Calendar and send invites to participants.
- Take note of and attend the post-event meetings or calls you set up during the event. Add them to your calendar to ensure you don’t miss any, or you end up ruining your newly established connections.
- Check your email regularly for similar networking requests from other virtual summit participants, so you don’t miss out on more potential connections.
You don’t have to be an expert on how to run a meeting to network effectively. Follow up diligently and connect with your prospects, and you should be good to go.
If you’re selling online courses and nurturing an online community, you can also invite the people you met through the virtual summit in your group.
With the help of reliable Learning Management Systems (LMS), it’s easy to pull this off.
You can onboard them to your group in minutes and manage your community easily with all the features the top LMS platforms possess. Our Kajabi vs. Teachable vs. Ruzuku comparison details the ins and outs of the top LMS tools so you can choose which online learning platform is ideal for your business.
Use the networking hacks now
The virtual summit benefits you can enjoy from employing the networking hacks we covered can make a huge positive dent in your business.
Take the time to implement them.
Whether in-person or online, effective networking is about focusing on the people you want to connect with by sharing useful information and knowledge with them.
While the process isn’t as complex or time-consuming as learning how to run a meeting or online event, with a bit of effort, thoughtful planning, and the networking hacks we shared, you can achieve success with your online event networking efforts.