One of our career coaching clients recently talked to us about a virtual networking event and their confusion about how to best handle it. If you are thinking about attending a virtual networking event, we get how uncertain you might feel. You may have heard negative things about them or wonder how effective they really are. But, if you are feeling stagnant and unfulfilled in your current position, virtual networking is a great way to get reinspired and be part of a community where you thrive. So, they are a good thing!
We understand that virtual networking events are quite different from in-person events, and it doesn’t have to be that way! We want to help you feel prepared and confident. Here are three tips to help you get the most out of your next virtual networking event.
Give a good first impression. With a virtual event, you are limited to what others can see in your video. This includes your hair, your shirt, and your background. We recommend using a neutral background and dressing for the virtual event as you would for an in-person event. Even though other participants will only see your face and part of your upper attire, we recommend being fully dressed in case you have to get up during the event. Also, since others will only see you in a small box, we recommend avoiding patterns or large pieces of jewelry, since this can be too busy and distracting on screen. Keep it simple.
Prepare to actively participate. While there may be some spontaneous questions or items that you want to share as the event progresses, we recommend preparing some items beforehand so that you feel more confident about your participation. What is the overall theme of the event? Go over the event details carefully. Are there opportunities to ask questions, to meet others in breakout rooms, or other ways to participate in the program? Write down meaningful questions and other information that you could bring to the table during these times. Keep a short list close to the device you will be using for the event to keep them fresh in your mind. Remember to keep your microphone on mute during times when participation is not required.
Set a personal goal for the event. Setting a personal goal for any networking event is a great way to make sure you are getting the most out of it. For example, with in-person events it seemed much easier to make a lot of connections and hand out business cards. With virtual events, focus more on making a few meaningful personal connections. You can also set a goal to learn something new to put into practice in your current position. Have a notebook close to you during the event to take notes, either of people you would like to get to know better throughout the event or items you want to put into practice.