8 Tips To Network Better At An Online Event

As the world shifts to virtual meeting platforms, networking professionals find new ways to expand their digital Rolodex. One of the more prominent ways to network in 2022 is through online events.

Online events are similar to any other event, except they are hosted online. This allows you to continue networking as before, but you’ll be using Zoom and other video communication tools. Considering the big transition, some of my clients find it difficult to network at an online event.

I’m sharing some tips below that will help you network better at an online event. These are particularly useful if you are an introvert or feel shy to take the first step.

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1. Go With an Objective

Ask yourself the following: "what do I hope to accomplish at this event?" Being a networking wizz doesn't mean handing out your contact information to every person you come across. Instead, it means forging memorable and long-term working relationships with professionals in your field of expertise. 

So before you start networking at an online event, take the time to think about what you hope to accomplish. For example, some of you might go with the objective of marketing for a career change, while others look to identify potentially helpful contacts for long-term cooperation. 

Regardless of what your objective is, it's vitally important to have one. Otherwise, you'll look like that person who hands out cards for no reason. 

So the first place to start is to identify an objective. Then, you can work on becoming better at achieving the objective. Fear not, as I've got you covered all the way.

2. Personalize Your Profile

The great thing about networking at an online event is that you can still be yourself. Despite using a laptop and Zoom to meet like-minded professionals, it won’t be a good idea to show up with a blank profile.

Personalization is important if you want to connect with strangers online. People will want to know who you are, what you do, and what you look like before communicating with you. So, right off the bat, you need to add more details than your name, a vague description, and a profile picture. 

You need to be specific and showcase your abilities and expertise. Doing so helps attract eager individuals who want to know more about you and your unique talents. Moreover, personalization makes you more marketable and easier to talk to. 

To top it off, don't forget to add your social profiles to allow others to connect with you easily. After all, the goal is to add as many people to your network. Online events can help you make that happen, but it does require some work on your part.

3. Be the First to Engage and Participate in Discussions

Personalizing your profile is one way to add visibility and hopefully get people to connect with you. Another way to highlight your profile is by engaging with others and participating in discussions.

Most online events follow a schedule. After the keynote speakers finish, there will probably be a Q&A session or some form of free discussion. Ideally, you want to participate in these conversations as much as possible. Regardless of the online event size, these discussions offer the opportunity to present yourself to others and ask questions or give an opinion.

By doing so, you actively contribute to the event and provide quality. Asking a question can spark a debate or start an interesting conversation. It also builds rapport, highlighting you as an interesting person that might be worth another conversation. 

But most importantly, by participating and engaging with others, you get the chance to present your expertise and knowledge about a particular subject. Doing so helps you find business partners, like-minded experts, or mutually-beneficial professionals.  

4. Start Small

Don't expect to build a network of 200 professionals from your first online event. As many of you know, networking is a process that takes time, dedication, and devotion to building a grandiose digital Rolodex. 

Moreover, you want to market yourself as a helpful connection. So jumping into an event with hundreds of participants might not be the best option at first.

Ideally, you want to start small. This will help you really get to know others and vice versa. The great thing about today's online events is that the platforms that host these events allow participants to join private rooms for one-on-one sessions. You can even join a room with multiple people and start a conversation.

If you're fairly new to networking, this is your best chance to build a small network of professionals. Not only will you achieve your goal, but you'll get better at networking at online events and move up to bigger events. 

5. Don't Forget About Social Media

Networking at online events is futile if you don't "plug" your social profiles. I mentioned including your social media profiles when creating your event profiles. But social media is so important in today's online networking landscape that it deserves a separate mention.

There are many ways to use social media to promote your participation at online events. For starters, you can share the event on your social profiles to raise awareness for the event and give a heads-up to unaware professionals who might wish to join you. 

Today's social media platforms have convenient sharing mechanisms that allow you to reach a wider audience. One example is using relevant hashtags. Let's assume the online event is about teaching recruiters how to shortlist applicants easier. 

You can add relevant hashtags when sharing the event on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to reach other eager professionals who also want to learn.

But there's also an inherent benefit to doing so. Sharing the event makes it easier for others to get in touch with you after the event finishes. But more so, it makes networking easier before the event starts.

As a professional online event networking tip, share the event before and after it ends. Doing so doubles your chances of connecting with professionals who want to participate in the event and chat about it later. 

6. Get in Touch With Participants

The key to networking at online events isn't only about getting someone's email or social media profile - it's about connecting afterward. Your chances of adding someone to your network will not work if you don't get in touch with them once the event finishes.

You need to get in touch with people while the event is still fresh in their memory. Ideally, you should follow up with your new connections the next day - you don't want to come off as annoying by sending an email when the event finishes.

In addition, you can engage on social media by searching the relevant hashtags. For example, look for mentions about the event and participants posting about their experiences. Then, you can comment on their posts and mention your experience at the event. 

But an excellent way to get in touch with participants is to schedule future meetings while attending the event. You should do this because you've already established a connection with someone who wants to get to know you better.

The biggest mistake to avoid is failing to show up for any post-event meetings you've set up. 

7. Take Notes While Attending

Every networking professional knows how important taking notes is when networking online. This tip goes hand-in-hand with the previously mentioned. 

Taking notes while talking to potential contacts can make a huge difference when looking to follow up. And the best part about it is that no one will notice you writing notes. 

Your notes should be organized and easy to follow. Write down names of contacts, email addresses, social media profiles, and key talking points you've had during your conversation. 

By writing down this information, you make it easier to follow up and stay on the same page. The last thing you want is to follow up with a contact and have no clue what conversations you've had. 

8. Leverage LinkedIn to Network Online

The final tip when networking at an online event is to leverage LinkedIn. LinkedIn is THE social media platform for professionals. Chances are, the people you want to connect with are active on LinkedIn. That's because professionals who network love LinkedIn. It's their go-to place to communicate with their network. 

And that's something you should be doing as well. For example, consider the following:

If you want to connect with someone on Facebook, you send a friend request. For Instagram and Twitter, you follow them. But if you want to connect with someone on LinkedIn, you "connect" with them.

Your LinkedIn profile must look appealing to both recruiters and networking professionals. To achieve this, a LinkedIn summary is the most important section to convey your expertise and how you can help others. If this is something you struggle with, here are some great examples to write a compelling LinkedIn summary,

After that, the only secret you need to engage effectively on LinkedIn is to offer value to your connections. You can do this by writing quality content. 

Ultimately, you want to be a person of value to your network. So remember that you don't need to shake hands to be good at networking.

If you'd like to know more on the topic of networking, check out these links:

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Author Bio

Erik Bergman co-founded Catena Media and helped grow it to over 300 employees and a $200 million valuation before stepping away to start Great.com, an iGaming organization that donates 100% of its profits to environmental charities. In addition to running a successful online affiliate business, Erik also hosts the Becoming Great podcast, shares entrepreneurship tips with his more than 1 million social media followers, and contributes to sites like Entrepreneuer.com, Business Insider, Foundr, and Forbes.

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