Virtual networking ideas have replicated the in-person experience in terms of getting access to experts in the field, insightful panels, and educational opportunities. However, only a few have succeeded in reproducing what is at the heart of industry events: networking.
Indeed, meeting peers and expanding business networks is one of the most important reasons people attend industry events and conferences.
Whether it is to get leads that may convert into customers or just to make professional connections that could be useful in the future, networking is and will remain a key aspect of events.
Yet, most organizations have struggled in promoting networking in their virtual events, and have settled for a one-directional type of events such as webinars, where the opportunity for interaction is limited.
How virtual networking works
The modern technology a virtual network uses helps it to create an extended network that works wirelessly. This includes:
- vSwitch Software: On host servers, virtualization software allows you to build up and configure a virtual network.
- Virtual network adapter: Creates a network-to-network gateway.
- Virtual machines and devices: Instruments that link to the internet and provide a variety of functions.
- Servers: This is a component of the network’s host infrastructure.
- Physical network: As a host for the virtual network infrastructure, they require it.
- Firewalls and security: They designed it to detect and eliminate security risks.
3 Classes of Virtual Networks
There are three classes of virtual networks. They include:
VPN is the acronym for virtual private network. A VPN connects two or more existing networks via the internet. Users can log in from anywhere to access the physical networks that are connected through an internet-based virtual network. VPNs are also used to hide internet activity on public Wi-Fi and ensure secure browsing. When data attached to packets establishes routing information that directs users to the address, they make up a VPN. It does so by creating a tunnel of addresses, encrypting browsing history and allowing secure remote access to information. VPNs created a small-scale, totally virtual network that allowed users to connect over the internet.
A virtual LAN network, or VLAN, employs partitions to divide an LAN network into domains, each with its own set of resources and configurations. The security, monitoring, and control of devices and servers within a domain are all better by using a VLAN. This is true for enormous networks, which may be more vulnerable to attack if you do not use the domains and monitor them separately.
The term “virtual extensible local area network” refers to a network that can be expanded virtually. Your level 3 network infrastructure provides a tunnel into level 2 in this network. Virtual switches, and another piece of technology called a physical or virtual base case route between endpoints data, create each tunnel’s endpoints.
Best practice virtual networking ideas to ensure your next event is on point
Here are some best practice ideas to ensure your next virtual event is on point when it comes to facilitating networking.
1. Enable and encourage chat
As basic as it may sound, enabling a chat feature within your virtual event is a must. If you don’t, attendees will hardly have any opportunities to participate in discussions and reach out to speakers.
Added to that, make sure speakers announce the public chat feature, and a moderator incites participation by introducing themes or questions for discussion.
To boost your event networking even further, find a platform that allows private chat, whereby attendees can instantly message each other individually whilst enjoying the event.
Usually, attendees may be reluctant to give out contact details on a public chat for all to see. Then, a private one-to-one conversation feature can represent a fitting solution to support networking while keeping attendees inside the virtual event environment.
2. Create virtual networking spaces and breakout rooms
Most probably, your event will have different sessions where speakers tackle hot topics within your industry. Apart from these sessions, setting up breakout rooms can enhance long-term connections between attendees.
These can be virtual meeting spaces where attendees can introduce themselves on a personal and professional level, discuss their thoughts on the event or talk about their business challenges.
A distinct benefit from virtual events is that people can easily join from around the world and provide different cultural perspectives, thus enriching the overall event experience.
If possible, include a moderator in the networking sessions as well. This person could greet people as they join, provide guidance for people who may be unsure about how to introduce themselves, and ask open-ended questions to keep the conversation going.
Alternatively, can set up breakout rooms featuring fun activities that can last the whole day. For instance, happy hours or workshops can keep your attendees engaged. This will provide a more informal environment where people can connect naturally.
3. Make attendees lists public and enable rich profile information
Using a dedicated virtual event platform or event mobile app, you can allow attendees to input their organization, location, photo, short bios, interests, work email, and social media profiles as they please. Attendees can then make this available for others if they wish to, or keep it private if they prefer not to.
That way, participants can browse the attendees list beforehand, decide on which people they want to meet (e.g like-minded people with similar professional interests, people with specific skills or career paths), connect with them on LinkedIn and stay in touch after the event.
4. Engage attendees on social media
Social media can not only prove an amazing tool in reaching your event target audience, but also a way to kickstart a public conversation and encourage sharing personal experiences on business challenges.
Sharing speakers’ bios and prompting participants to do the same within a dedicated hashtag or asking for personal opinions on a specific topic can help in boosting engagement and networking prior to the event and in getting valuable feedback afterward.
5. Gamify networking
Embedding gamification in your event, with missions or challenges for attendees to complete, and prizes at hand for the most active can also be an effective way of incentivizing networking.
For instance, you could design dynamic missions whereby each participant gets points if they complete profile information, participate in breakout rooms, or post discussion topics in networking sessions. As they complete each goal or mission, participants could follow their position in an interactive leaderboard ranking, both boosting the event engagement and encouraging networking.
6 Benefits of Virtual Networking
Virtual networking has many benefits event professionals can leverage on and we have highlighted a few of them below
- Remote work capabilities: People can connect to their networks using virtual networking from anywhere on the planet.
- Digital security: Using technologies like tunneling encryption and domain segments, virtual networking helps you to make your networks more secure.
- Streamlines hardware: Enterprise firms can reduce the amount of hardware they need to access, maintain, and monitor by employing vSwitches to route functions from one location to another.
- Flexibility and scalability: It’s easier to scale at a low cost of ownership because it’s virtual and doesn’t require much hardware to set up. Scaling causes a few software and configuration changes but does not necessitate a large amount of hardware.
- Cost savings: Businesses profit by saving money on hardware expenditures and upkeep by minimizing hardware.
- Productivity: Because they can set networks up in less time.
Virtual Networking and Contemporary Business
Virtual networking is an integral part of every digital company model in today’s society. It’s an innovation that addresses remote access, security, flexibility, scalability, and cost savings. Outsourcing this function, along with many others, helps you save time, money, and important resources that you could spend ensuring that all of your technology meets your business needs.
Virtual networking and cloud-based services will become increasingly crucial to all businesses as societal limitations force more individuals to work remotely. For firms that have already gone through becoming a digital enterprise, increasing virtual networking capabilities could be the next step in the digital transformation process. For example, one method for organizations to continue to develop in the digital world is to expand their virtual network to incorporate more than just a simple VPN for enhanced efficiency.
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