Virtual networking was not even an idea a few years ago. People are now searching for virtual networking tips and using them every day. In just a few months, the world of sales has changed dramatically. Our ways of communicating with customers and colleagues have also changed.
We all look forward to attending trade shows and sales conferences in the sales industry. These types of events used to be held in large halls that were filled with sales professionals who wanted to network and grow their businesses by making personal connections.
The global pandemic triggered a shift to virtual sales events and conferences. These are now hybrid, with the option of attending either in-person or virtually. Sales reps now have to adapt their in-person knowledge and skills to the virtual and hybrid world.
One might think that virtual events and conferences have eliminated the possibility of networking with potential customers. This is because our booths are no longer there. But think again!
We met Gillan Wyatt (Sales Development Rep) at Vidyard, and Courtney Christie (ex-SDR at Vidyard), to talk about the industry changes and to learn more about their journey from networking at in person conferences to moving to virtual events. Gillian and Courtney have been pioneering virtual networking at sales events using video whenever possible. And boy, have they seen the results!
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You want to know more about virtual networking at events? This blog has a video version.
Join Charlie Rogers, Vidyard’s Social media Manager, for a discussion on how to make the most of virtual networking during events.
Contents1.The shift to virtual events and conferences2. Top Virtual Networking Tips For Salespeople2.2Tip 2 : Make Yourself Available.2.3Tip 3 : Use Video as Much As Possible.4. Tip 4 : Communicate With Your Teammates.
The Shift from Virtual Events and Conferences
The virtual world has made it easier for attendees to adapt to conferences and networking events. In the past, sales teams had a booth at events where they could interact with passers-by and get to know those who visited their booth. Virtual events and conferences now focus mainly on the series and keynote speakers, as well as breakout or training opportunities. Virtual event platforms allow attendees to communicate via chats. Each platform is different.
“The most difficult thing people are having trouble with (switching over to virtual networking events), particularly for booth exhibitors is the missing factor of being in a position to draw people from the crowd and interact that way with them or start organic conversations.”
Courtney ChristieVidyardFormer SDR
Event attendees who attend conferences to prospect have seen a shift in the format and dynamic of these events. Prospecting can be difficult, whether in-person or online. Prospecting is a difficult part of the sales process for 40% of sales reps. We’ve learned through experience that virtual event platforms have created great opportunities for sales reps and prospects to communicate.
Top Tips for Virtual Networking for Salespeople
There are many opportunities for virtual networking at industry events. These opportunities vary from one platform to the next, so don’t be afraid of being creative and taking advantage of them when they arise. Sales reps often approach networking in the same way as they did in the past. They would schedule time on their calendars and wait for people to visit their booth.
Although virtual networking platforms still offer “booths” for people to contact you, it is not the best idea to guard the booth or miss an opportunity to talk with someone.
You’ll make the most of the conference or virtual sales event by learning how to connect and build relationships. These tips are compiled by Courtney and Gillian.
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Tip 1: Participate in the Event
You can prioritize traffic at your booth less or designate someone to check in on a specific schedule. But, for the most part, you should just be there.
Participate in panels and speeches because this is where the majority of engagement takes place. Side chats are full of people asking questions and commenting. Participate in the community chats. If people have questions, you can pop in to share your solution. This is your chance to build relationships organically. Take a close look at the conversations and share your ideas if you feel that you can help or have shared experiences.
Reach out to someone you feel connected with by commenting on the panel’s community threads. If you wish to remain present at the event, make a note of their name, and contact them via LinkedIn or the platform after the panel.
Take the time to review people’s bios and find out if they are looking for something similar to what you offer. If they are, record and share a personal video about you and how you can assist them in achieving their goals.
Tip 2: Commit Yourself 100%
We’ve all been on zoom calls at some point. But don’t treat virtual sales events like zoom calls. You can turn off your microphone or video. Engage in the panel discussions and activities. Talk to others in the community threads and turn on your video whenever possible. Treat your time as a valuable resource.
Acelleents will arrange random chats for you with people you can network with. Some people may be nervous about this, but it is a great way to have fun and commit to the activity. Virtual events are great because no one can see what’s on your desk.
Tip 3 – Use video as much as possible
You will be asked to create a bio when you attend a virtual event. You can include information about your background, interests, and where you live. You only have 300 characters so you don’t have enough space to tell everyone everything about you. You might consider making a short, selfie-style intro video and then posting it in your bio. This will allow you to explain more quickly.
Learn from the pros Here’s a video Courtney created to put in her bio after attending a virtual conference. Vidyard has a notes section that allows you to write down your points and then easily view them during recording.
Video doesn’t just work for your bio. Another useful way to use video is in the community threads channels. Record and share a quick video reply to capture people’s attention and stand out in the sea of text-based threads.
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Remember to embrace your authentic self. Take what you know about being in those in-person rooms and meetings and apply it. Bring your personality and what you have to the table. You don’t have to lose that to be good at virtual networking through video. You just have to use it within this new virtual environment.
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth more characters than a text box. By putting a video in my bio, I’m really able to engage with prospects in a quality way. They get to know me similarly to how they’re getting to know the keynote speakers. Through video, they can connect with me in a similar fashion, which helps Vidyard stand out.”
Tip 4 – Communicate with your teammates
Keep in touch with your coworkers, and create a game plan for the virtual event. Each person should sign up for one of the panels or speaker series if there are several. Tag your coworkers if you spot a thread chat in the community that might be of interest to them and start the conversation.
It’s difficult to find your fellow participants in virtual events because we don’t do them in person. You can communicate with each other via video chat or a side conversation.
“We use more video communication with my staff to ensure that we are giving the same information to qualified leads or prospects. Since we went virtual, I think there is almost more communication between us.
Use Video to Follow Up with a Lead
Email is a great way to begin cold outreach. This shows that you took initiative to find contact information for prospects. Email allows you to keep track of everything from one place.
Record a personal video to introduce yourself and make your email stand out from the rest. Subject lines that include the word “video” are five times more likely to be opened and eight times more likely to receive a reply.
“I tell people that it shouldn’t be about the quality of your video’s production because video prospecting can be more casual than professional. Because we are all at home and all of us are adjusting, it should be about the video’s content.
Courtney ChristieVidyardFormer SDRFree Sales Video Email ToolRecord and send email sales videos for free.Sign Up Free
It’s a good idea to check out the contact information of people who have attended virtual networking events. Many attendees will show their LinkedIn accounts to let you know that they are open to networking and looking for connections.
It’s a smart idea to already have video content on LinkedIn if you want to connect with prospects via LinkedIn. If they are interested in you and your offerings, they will quickly be able to grasp the content and what you have available with just one click.
It is a good idea to post a video to LinkedIn each time you attend a virtual conference. You can make a short video to let people know you will be attending the conference. Also, tell them why you are looking to connect with others or what your offer. If people visit your page, it will be a sign that you have opened the door for them to connect and network.
Learn from the pros Here’s a video Gillian posted on LinkedIn to demonstrate her ability to learn from other professionals before she attended a virtual conference. Notice how she introduced herself and talked about Vidyard’s panels. She also shared tips on connecting with Vidyard on LinkedIn.
If you see someone at a virtual conference that you would like to connect with, be thorough and reach out both through the platform itself and through LinkedIn.
“I think it’s well worth it to send a message both through the virtual event platform AND LinkedIn. Not everyone is checking their messages while at the event. It’s also important to share your LinkedIn URL both in your bio and in community chats on the platform, so that people can reach out and invite you to join their network as well.”
Courtney ChristieVidyardFormer SDR
Parting Advice From Our Virtual Networking Experts
Courtney: It’s important to think about the virtual event as a whole. Conferences are a great way to get your work done. If I am not exhausted at the end of a virtual conference, it is because I don’t feel like I did a good job. I believe in making an impression. You should know my name as well as my face. This is where the Vidyard video tool has been really helpful. Make a video of yourself introducing yourself when you make a connection request. Instead of sending a text-based message, do this whenever you go to connect. You should treat the video as if it were a first impression. You want to make a connection with people by reaching out to them, saying your name and giving them a reference. You should record a video of any time during the event that there is a text portion. This allows someone to see your responses and not just read them.
Gillian: When attending a conference or virtual event, make sure you include a video in the bio. This is the first contact you make with people at these events. If you want to build a relationship with people at virtual events, you can also send them a personal video. Although it takes only thirty seconds to introduce yourself, and tell them where you are working, it leaves a lasting impression. You should remember that people are there to see you, not to listen to a webinar if they’re attending a virtual conference. While no one is going to be drawn to read a ten-sentence summary of your thoughts on a topic, they will likely be drawn to watch a video. This makes you stand out and will help you network. Many people will reach out to you and say, “Hey, that was great!” or “I want to learn more.” even though they may not have read the entire thread.
This article was first published January 13, 2021. This post was last updated on December 20, 2020.
Four Virtual Networking Tips For Salespeople