Hosting a business networking event can be a powerful tool for connecting with professionals, building networks, and fostering business relationships. Although companies are no longer restricted to hosting virtual events this 2023, businesses realise how these networking events are valuable and profitable assets in the long run.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you’ll need at every step of the way to successfully host a virtual networking event that fits your B2B marketing strategies—from planning until its launch and everything in between.
Before the event: virtual event planning and promotion
Attention to detail, effective communication, and a well-executed plan are essential to delivering a successful and memorable event experience. Here are some ideas you’ll want to keep in mind when you’re planning for your next virtual networking event:
Understand the basics and set goals
Before anything else, familiarise yourself with the fundamental aspects of networking events. Set clear goals for your event, such as increasing networking opportunities, generating leads, or enhancing brand visibility. These goals will guide your decision-making throughout the planning process.
Research your target audience
Invest time in understanding your target audience. Identify their needs, preferences, and interests. This knowledge will guide your event planning and help you create content and activities that resonate with your attendees.
Decide the type of event you’re planning to host
Determine the format and purpose of your networking event. Will it be a webinar, panel discussion, conference, or something else entirely? Defining the event type will help you shape the content, structure, and duration accordingly.
Create a realistic timeline
Develop a well-structured timeline that outlines key milestones and deadlines for your virtual networking event. Doing so ensures that you stay organised throughout the planning process and allow ample time for tasks such as marketing, speaker invitations, and technical setup.
Choose the right virtual event platform
Selecting the appropriate virtual event platform is crucial for delivering a seamless experience. Consider factors like user-friendliness, features, security, and scalability for your organisers, speakers, and attendees.
Design an event website
Consider developing an engaging and informative website for your networking event that showcases the event details, agenda, speakers, and registration information. Enhance the user experience by making it visually appealing, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly.
Start email marketing early
Building an email marketing strategy and directly reaching your potential attendees can be an advantage for your B2B marketing efforts. Craft compelling and personalised emails to communicate event details, highlight key benefits, and encourage registration. Consider keeping the momentum going with periodic updates and reminders.
Spread the word on social media
Similar to in-person networking events, you can leverage the power of social media to promote your networking event. Create engaging posts, share teasers, and utilise relevant hashtags. Engage with your target audience, industry influencers, and communities to generate buzz and attract attendees.
Book guests, speakers, and entertainers
Secure industry experts, influential speakers, and engaging entertainers to add value and excitement to your networking event. Aim for a diverse lineup that addresses various topics and interests within your target audience.
Create sponsorship packages
If you plan to include sponsorships, design attractive packages that provide value to both sponsors and attendees. Offer branding opportunities, speaking slots, and networking sessions to encourage sponsorship participation.
Create event content
Develop high-quality, informative, and engaging content to be shared during your business networking events. This can include presentations, panel discussions, workshops, or interactive activities. Ensure that the content aligns with your event objectives and offers value to your audience.
During the event: Virtual event production
Virtual networking events can make a significant impact on your B2B marketing goals and strategies. Here are some key practices you can consider to deliver exceptional virtual networking events that leave a lasting impact on both organisers and attendees:
Test event technology beforehand
Check the audio and video quality, test interactive features, and familiarise yourself with the necessary virtual event platforms, tools, and equipment. This will help you address any technical issues in advance and ensure a smooth experience for everyone.
Develop a run of show (or run sheet)
Create a detailed timeline and plan for each session and activity during the networking event. This will help you stay organised and ensure a seamless flow from start to finish. Include specific timings, session formats, and instructions for speakers and moderators to ensure a well-coordinated success.
Plan breaks in between sessions
Virtual events can be mentally taxing, so it’s important to include scheduled breaks to give attendees time to recharge and network. Use these breaks as an opportunity to engage participants with interactive activities, virtual booths, or networking lounges. Doing so can enhance the overall attendee experience and prevent virtual fatigue.
Facilitate networking opportunities
Networking is a crucial aspect of virtual events. Provide dedicated networking sessions or virtual rooms where attendees can connect with each other. Incorporate icebreaker activities, discussion topics, or matchmaking features to encourage meaningful interactions and foster valuable connections.
Encourage attendee engagement
Create opportunities for attendees to actively participate and engage with the event content. Use features like live polls, Q&A sessions, or chat functions to encourage interaction between participants and speakers. Engaged attendees are more likely to retain information and have a positive experience.
Gamify event content
Adding gamification elements can make your virtual event more engaging and interactive. Incorporate quizzes, challenges, or competitions related to the event’s content or sponsors. Offer rewards or prizes to participants, creating excitement and incentivizing engagement throughout the event.
Leverage a mobile event app
Foster a more immersive experience by enabling attendees to engage with the business networking event conveniently from their devices with a mobile event app. These apps provide easy access to event information, session schedules, speaker profiles, and networking features.
Showcase your sponsors
Recognise and promote your event sponsors throughout the virtual networking event. Offer branding opportunities, such as sponsored sessions, logo placements, or virtual booths. Highlight their contributions and provide platforms for them to engage with attendees, generating valuable exposure for their brand.
Collect feedback in real time
Implement mechanisms to collect feedback from attendees during the event. Use live polls, surveys, or chat functions to gather real-time insights about the overall networking event experience. This feedback can help you make immediate adjustments, address concerns, and improve future virtual events.
After the event: follow-up best practices
Maximise the results of your event by creating a cycle of continuous improvement and ensuring the long-term success of your event marketing efforts by considering the following practices:
Collect data from your feedback mechanisms during the event and generate comprehensive reports to evaluate the success of your virtual networking event.
Analyse metrics such as attendance rates, engagement levels, feedback surveys, and any other relevant data points. These reports will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your event and help you identify areas for improvement.
Follow up with attendees
After your networking event, maintain communication and foster valuable relationships with attendees. Send personalised follow-up emails expressing gratitude for their participation and providing any relevant resources, recordings, or presentation materials.
Repurpose content for continued engagement
Leverage the content generated during your networking event to provide ongoing value and engagement. Consider repurposing session recordings, speaker presentations, or highlights into blog posts, podcasts, or social media content. This allows attendees to revisit key insights and promotes your event marketing efforts to a wider audience, even after it has ended.
Feed lessons back into your event strategy
Reflect on the successes and challenges encountered during your virtual networking event. Identify key lessons learned and incorporate them into your future event and B2B marketing strategies. Use attendee feedback, analytics, and your own observations to refine your planning, execution, and promotion for future networking events.
How The Ortus Club Can Elevate Your Next Online Event
Industry leaders can rely on networking events to get the right opportunities and share valuable expertise in their own fields. However, organising and hosting networking events demands extensive time and effort from everyone involved. The Ortus Club is an organisation that aims to make this process easier and more efficient.
The Ortus Club is a specialised B2B marketing company. We host networking events for C-level executives and business leaders across sectors. Through our virtual and in-person events and executive roundtables, we provide businesses with a platform to connect with potential customers, partners, and thought leaders in their respective industries and fields.
Events with The Ortus Club are held around the world, making it easy for businesses to find networking events near them. Thinking of scaling your B2B marketing to a global audience? If you’ve reached this far into the blog, then maybe this is your time to host an event with us. Message us today to find out more!