A couple weeks ago, I helped facilitate Boise Startup Week (BSW)—an opportunity for entrepreneurs and members of the Idaho tech scene to connect. One thing the experience drove home for me was just how well some of the virtual adjustments we’ve made to maintain professional connections are going. We’re learning that, while virtual interactions aren’t a replacement for those that happen face-to-face, they do offer some serious advantages, especially when it comes to learning and networking.
You might assume that virtual meetings have limited your chances to network, but the next generation of event software has you covered. And in many ways, those avenues for interaction are actually superior to what you might experience at a live event.
A clearer path to connection. Virtual meetings and events offer an accurate list of attendees, complete with contact information, in advance. As such, it’s easy to connect with the people you want to talk to. Rather than tracking them down in a crowded room, you can simply send an invite, coordinate schedules, and make that conversation happen. During BSW, I set up 10 meetings this way.
More positive outcomes. In many ways, in-person events rely on serendipity. That’s what good planners do: open up the door to chance meetings that have the opportunity to change the trajectory of your experience. That’s exciting, but it also puts a lot of weight on pure luck. While virtual events require more work to cultivate targeted, deliberate interactions, the reward is much greater—since it’s not left up to chance.
An opportunity to truly be present. With serendipity playing such a significant role in in-person networking sessions, it can be hard to be fully present. You may find yourself looking over your shoulder to see who’s walking by, and thus neglecting the conversation you’re in. If you’re worried about your next appointment and making it there on time, you’re not focused on the present either. Virtual essentially eliminates those concerns.
These factors demonstrate that it will behoove us to continue building virtual networking experiences, even after the threat of COVID-19 subsides. Ultimately, everyone will benefit from a hybrid approach to events that capitalizes on all available resources to provide the best possible experience.