What is the Future of Virtual Events?
Virtual meetings are here to stay: How is your company adjusting?
In 2020 we saw a massive increase in virtual events, a necessary shift as a result of the pandemic. They have quickly become the norm – at least for now. The pending questions are, will there be a place for such events once we resume face-to-face events? Or will virtual ones continue to prosper? What does this mean for networking?
From business to entertainment, all types of physical events continue to be canceled on a global scale. Meeting with our business partners is still not a safe option. Having said that, using a virtual event platform such as Zoom, MS Teams or YouTube provides a solid substitute to conducting live events. Many firms, especially those in the technology field, are beginning to use virtual reality to create more engagement and a sense of normalcy.
All in all, it seems that virtual events will continue to have a place long after the pandemic has subsided. It is therefore worthwhile for all types of businesses to shift to virtual events. They are still valuable in that they provide an opportunity to raise awareness about a firm, while also generating significant revenue if they are done on a larger scale.
Even if you have not conducted an online event before, it is quite easy to adapt to them as the existing platforms are user-friendly and easy to navigate. It is also worthwhile to note that online events can be equally as powerful as face-to-face events. When done correctly, you are still able to share knowledge about your firm and facilitate meaningful connections with attendees, both during and after the event.
How to shift to virtual events
First and foremost, you will need to brainstorm an event idea that is relevant and significant, taking current trends into consideration. In the process, ask yourself who your audience will be and what the goal of the event is. The goal can be anything from increasing brand awareness to lead generation. There are so many online events occurring at the same time, so it is imperative to give a valuable reason as to why individuals should attend your virtual event.
If you have already conducted several virtual events, think about what content resonated the most with attendees in the past and which generated the most engagement overall. Do not be afraid to think outside of the box and try new elements, such as having a panel discussion after the event itself. Giving the opportunity for attendees to converse with you and amongst themselves can be highly valuable.
Once you have decided on the topic and created content to share, you will need to choose a virtual platform to conduct your event and likely another platform to sell tickets. You may also allow free entry. At NMS, we use Zoom to conduct events, as well as Eventbrite, to allow for a seamless ticketing process.
The technicalities and back-end set up required to stream a live event may be daunting at first, but following the steps that each platform provides make it relatively simple.
Another word of caution is to be sure to keep your attendees in the loop in the days or weeks leading up to the event. We all know how easy it is to forget to join a webinar that we registered for weeks in advance. Eventbrite, as an example, easily allows you to keep attendees informed about the event with automated email updates. Emails, social media and your company website are additional tools that allow you to maintain clear communication.
What does this mean for networking?
We are all well aware that the meaning of networking has changed in regard to events. Networking now seems to have become less personal and increasingly difficult. But that does not have to be the case. There are several ways to allow for opportunities to network and strike up meaningful conversations with potential partners and clients.
First, be sure to engage your attendees during the event. This provides more value to the attendee, who can become a potential partner or client. You can also do the following to engage attendees, whether before or after the event:
- Allow them to ask questions during the event.
- Create a poll that is interesting for individuals to answer, but at the same time allows you to collect vital information in understanding what the attendee could be looking for.
- Collect feedback after the event using emails or LinkedIn messages.
- Add on a panel discussion or networking event after the live event for those looking to learn more about you.
Once the event concludes, do not allow the attendees to forget you. Keep in touch with them after the event, whether via email, over the phone, or through LinkedIn messaging. Be sure to do so in the parameters of privacy laws, which vary from region to region. Filter the contacts that show more interest as to what you do and build your relationship from there.
In this day and age, virtual events are largely the only means to gather individuals of similar interest and to network. Take advantage of the user-friendly tools that are at your disposal. Once you take some time to familiarize yourself with them, you will be surprised as to how simple it is to conduct interesting and meaningful events. Do not be deterred if you don’t succeed in building meaningful relationships with potential partners and clients at first. You will find best practices along the way that will work for you and bring true value to you firm. Do not be afraid of the switch to online events.
How can NMS help?
We strive to provide our clients with truly unique consulting services. Our services include:
- Ensuring significant ROI on digital marketing efforts
- Integrated set of offerings that help your organization achieve growth
- Training your people to expand your marketing capabilities for the long-term
We combine several capabilities in our offerings package including systems integration, data analysis, media guidance, and creative support. Our approach allows for the collaboration needed for sales growth, brand recognition, and team development. Don’t cancel or postpone your event again – contact us for a free consultation how to get your events up and running online.
About the Author
Ms. Sophia Binder is a communications specialist with a passion for planning and managing events, as well as establishing sustainable partnerships. Sophia has worked as a PR & Marketing Specialist, where she built and maintained relationships with various stakeholders and organized a multitude of events. She also worked in marketing at BMW Group, where she organized events and leveraged her communications expertise to improve the company’s social media strategy.