Last year changed everything.
With the onset of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we all had to adjust to new ways of doing everything. This includes our business world too, where events, trade shows, outings, and in-person networking opportunities were put on hold.
As we move back to a sense of normalcy, trade shows and other events have begun to return, and with those comes the opportunity for networking with others again. Given all the significant changes in the last year and a half, the emphasis to connect with our peers, partners and prospects has never been more important.
The Value of Networking
Connecting with others on social channels has long been an accepted and important practice, and in the past year especially, it has become a crucial part of virtual events – which were subbed in for in-person events while those were on hold.
Although virtual connections are important, they cannot fully establish personal relationships or even proper conversation, much less switch up your daily routine the way in-person events can.
While virtual events will remain, true networking provides sources of entertainment, camaraderie, and personal communication which are hard to replicate digitally. This is the reason why the return of events is so important and should be put back in the mix for your business, especially where your sales teams are concerned.
Re-Prioritizing with Hybrid Networking Opportunities
Although virtual events are proving to be useful and successful, the return of in-person events is causing a shift to a new idea: Hybrid-style networking.
According to Event Manager Blog, nearly 70% of event pros plan to utilize the hybrid model – a blend of both virtual and in-person networking opportunities – as we move toward 2022.
Depending on what the event(s) is, there are usually opportunities for learning and entertainment. But the really valuable part is in the form of effective networking and establishing or strengthening relationships.
With a new mix of virtual and in-person meetings and events, you can have a more well-rounded networking experience.
Social media now plays an even bigger part. On that side, event pages are a great tool for attendees. You can check out itineraries and schedules so you’ll know what to expect, and you can also see a list of people who will be attending. This creates an opportunity to connect virtually before talking in-person (pre-event networking), and can give you insights into what potential connections are interested in.
This virtual run-up to the event can also create opportunities to ask questions of the organizers or sponsors and see how you and your company might be able to fit in better – or even participate in certain aspects. By offering suggestions or ideas on a public event page, you’re also increasing visibility for yourself and your company, which can open further networking opportunities at the event itself.
All of these chances for pre-event networking not only enhance the value of social media, and solidifies the notion that virtual events are here to stay, but they serve as a great segue into in-person events and allows important connections to develop more easily.
Networking with your peers, prospects, and even competitors are the key component of any business event.
While last year proved that virtual events can not only work, but are going to remain standard, the return of in-person events changes the landscape, yet again. By utilizing a hybrid style, combining social media, virtual, and in-person events, you’ll be better prepared to participate in valuable networking situations in multiple ways.