Virtual Event Networking: Accommodating Attendee Communication Preferences
Event organizers should provide ample opportunities for attendees to connect with each other through different forms of virtual event networking. Even though attendees may not be in the same room, they can still create meaningful connections over virtual meetings, messaging, and other distance-friendly communication channels.
Networking with sponsors, speakers, and other attendees is a core pillar of events. Whether you’re trying to meet potential customers, partners, employers, or simply get to know others in your industry, networking has a lot of benefits.
In fact, it’s also one of the main reasons that people attend virtual events. However, not everyone has the same communication style or comfort levels when it comes to networking.
To accommodate these different communication preferences, it’s important for event organizers to allow attendees to choose how they wish to connect.
Why Attendees Need Options For Virtual Event Networking
What do differences in attendee communication styles mean for event organizers? Well, it means that event organizers should be providing multiple networking avenues for attendees to choose from.
In our poll on attendee preferences, the results were quite mixed when it came to attendees’ preferred methods of virtual event networking.
34% of respondents reported that 1:1 chats were their favorite. This was only a small lead over small group video calls, which were the favorite for 33% of respondents. Another 19% chose 1:1 video calls as their preferred networking method, and 14% chose group or session chats. This shows the need for not only different mediums of connection, but also for the choice in how many people attendees want to connect with at once.
Communication Preferences Across Age Groups
Consider the anticipated demographics of your event.
A survey by Korn Ferry found that millennials often avoid face-to-face interactions in work or business settings, and instead prefer to use online messaging (55 percent) or e-mail (28 percent) to communicate. An event with a millennial audience should feature chat or messaging options to accommodate attendees that don’t want to participate in video or audio networking sessions.
Baby boomer audiences tend to prefer face-to-face communication or phone communication. For virtual events, video meetings are generally to best fit for this demographic as they more closely mimic the in-person face-to-face experience. This demographic may also prefer hybrid events over solely virtual events.
Different Methods for Different Communication Styles
There are many different networking options that you can make available for your attendees to choose from. The most important ones to consider incorporating into your next event are:
As we discussed above, there are a lot of people that prefer text-based virtual communication over face-to-face or spoken communication methods. Chats are also great because they can run alongside sessions. They’re also easier to participate in for people that are multi-tasking, such as attendees participating from home with children around.
Chats provide a much-needed break for those who start to feel fatigued after spending much of the event day viewing sessions and communicating over video. Long periods of on-camera virtual communication often lead to Zoom Fatigue. One reason for this is that seeing yourself on-camera during meetings is more fatiguing. You generally don’t spend the duration of your in-person communications looking in a mirror and critiquing your appearance or mannerisms, but during virtual meetings most people can’t help concern themselves with how they come across on video. This is especially true when connecting with new people at events, as we are often much more concerned about how we are being perceived when meeting new people or speaking with those we don’t know well.
It’s more tiring to try to emote effectively and interpret other’s expressions, words, and body language over video platforms. Chats lessen the cognitive load and can be a welcome alternative to video-based networking activities.
Social27 Virtual Event Platform also features a global chat function where users can tag each other, share photos, and post gifs. This fun interactive space lets attendees keep the conversation going all throughout the event.
Allowing attendees to record short introductions can be a fun way to encourage attendees to put themselves out there and let their personalities shine.
On Social27 Virtual Event Platform, event attendees can record Hello World videos to introduce themselves to the community. Putting a face to the name and being able to get a sense of someone’s personality before reaching out to them can make connecting less intimidating.
Social27 Virtual Event Platform also supports Soapbox videos. A Soapbox video can be used to share strong opinions, thoughts, or ideas to spark discussion with other attendees. Most people that attend an event around a specific topic or industry will be passionate or knowledgeable about what is being discussed, so this is a great way to promote conversation and connection.
Many people are already comfortable with short video format thanks to TikTok, Instagram Stories, and Reels.
Small Group Video Meetings
Small group video meetings provide an intimate setting for people to connect face-to-face through video calls. Many people feel more comfortable speaking up in small groups, so limiting the number of participants can be a helpful way to provide a welcoming place for people to break out of their shell.
On Social27 Virtual Event Platform, small group sessions are called Roundtables. Anyone can start a Roundtable and they can accommodate up to 6 participants. Roundtables can be set to private or public to give participants even more options on how they wish to connect.
Larger Group Video Meetings
Large group video meetings provide many of the same benefits as small group video meetings, but the small intimate setting is replaced by a large, exciting atmosphere. This is the perfect way to meet a larger number of people in a short amount of time. Experienced networkers who are comfortable putting themselves out there will thrive in these settings. If you are looking to connect with others for lead generation purposes, joining a large group and then breaking off into smaller chats or meetings with interested potential buyers can be an efficient course of action.
On Social27 Virtual Event Platform, larger meetings are called Boardrooms. Boardrooms can host up to 15 participants on Social27 MeetUp and up to 30 participants on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Others can still join a full Social27 MeetUp Boardroom in view-only mode.
1:1 Chats or Meetings
Some people feel more comfortable with one-on-one rather than group conversations. Other attendees may enjoy group conversations but want the option to break off into a one-on-one discussion when they find someone that they wish to speak with more in-depth.
One-on-one conversations can take place over chat, video, or audio-only depending on the preferences of the two participants. This is a great way to get to know someone better or to discuss a potential sale or partnership.
Hybrid events are the perfect way to let attendees choose how they want to connect. Attendees at hybrid events can choose between a variety of in-person and virtual communication channels to connect with other opportunities.
Incorporating virtual networking prior to the in-person component of a hybrid event can increase the connections made. Attendees can start networking virtually beforehand and make plans to meet up with other attendees at the event. This helps to guarantee that attendees get to meet and speak with the right people, rather than having to wander around hoping to meet someone in their industry, niche, or at their target company. Getting the introductions out of the way and developing rapport before meeting in-person allows for more meaningful connections to take place.
Social27 Event Platform features a Recommendation Tool that can help attendees find others with similar interests to boost connections before and during the event.
Choose How to Connect on Social27 Virtual Event Platform
Social27 Virtual Event Platform supports a wide range of networking features to give attendees the choice in how they want to connect. Attendees can choose from Hello World videos, moderated or unmoderated chats, Round Tables, and more!
Set up a demo today to see everything the platform has to offer.