January 13, 2021·10 min read

Our top SDRs share their tips for using video to network at virtual events plus the best virtual event platforms for networking.

Whether you’re new to sales, or a seasoned sales professional, one thing that we all look forward to is sales conferences, trade shows, and events. These types of events were often at large halls filled with other sales professionals looking to make their mark, network, and grow their business by making in-person connections.

Fast forward to the global pandemic hitting, and now ALL sales events and conferences have gone virtual, and sales reps are left to figure out how to translate the in-person repertoire they know and love to the online realm.

At first glance, one would think that because of the landscape change to virtual events and conferences, there’s no longer the opportunity to connect and network with potential customers since our physical booths, where that historically happened, are gone. Well, think again!

We sat down (virtually, of course) with Courtney Christie and Gillan Wyatt, Sales Development Reps (SDRs) at Vidyard, to discuss the industry changes and learn about their journey from networking at in-person conferences to the switch to virtual events. Both Courtney and Gillian have been trailblazing virtual networking at sales events by using video as much as possible, and boy, have they seen results!

Watch and Learn

Want to learn about virtual networking at events? We made a video version of this blog so you can do precisely that!

Take 4 minutes and join Vidyard’s Social Media Manager Charlie Rogers as he discusses pro tips for making the most of virtual networking at events.

  1. Contents
  2. 1.The Shift to Virtual Events and Conferences
  3. 2.The Best Virtual Event Platforms for Networking
  4. 3.Best Practices and Tips for Virtual Networking at Sales Events
  5. 3.1Tip 1: Be a Part of the Event
  6. 3.2Tip 2: Commit Yourself 100%
  7. 3.3Tip 3: Use Video As Much as Possible
  8. 3.4Tip 4: Communicate with Your Teammates
  9. 4.Using Video to Follow-Up with a New Lead
  10. 5.Parting Advice from Our Virtual Networking Experts

The Shift to Virtual Events and Conferences

As conferences and networking events move over to the virtual world, attendees have had to quickly adapt and get on board. In the past, sales teams would have a booth set up at events and have the chance to interact with the passing crowd, getting to know the people who came to their booth. Now virtual events and conferences are mainly focused on the keynote and series speakers and breakout or training opportunities. Some virtual event platforms let attendees communicate in chats, but each platform varies.

“The biggest difference that people are struggling with (switching to virtual networking events), especially for booth exhibitors, is that missing factor of being able to pull people from the crowd and interact with them that way, or start organic conversations.”

Courtney ChristieVidyardSDR

This change in dynamic and form for conferences has had implications for event attendees who are there to prospect. Whether in-person or virtual, prospecting is hard. A whopping 40% of sales reps say that prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process. But fear not, because we’ve found through experience that many virtual event platforms have thought of this and have built in some great avenues for sales reps to communicate with potential prospects.

The Best Virtual Event Platforms for Networking

Every virtual event platform has its pros and cons, and of course, each event will be different, so we’ve rounded up some of our favorites and included tips on how best to navigate them.

Great for: Community building
Cvent is a virtual event platform that has been helping conferences and events transition from in-person events to building awesome engagement online. They’ve implemented community chat and threads to encourage connection and have live Q&A chats during live video sessions as well. A great feature they have is that when someone comes to your virtual booth, they’re prompted to fill out their email address and what they were looking to see. So when you follow-up, there’s more context for you to personalize and tailor your response.

Display screen for a virtual networking event.

Great for: Encouraging engagement
Whova is another virtual event platform that has community threads and chats. They go a step further in encouraging engagement by allowing attendees to start community threads as well. So, if you have a particular interest you’re hoping to connect with others about, create a community thread with a topic title and start networking! Whova also allows posting of videos in community threads, which is a great way to cut through the noise and get your message across quickly.

If data or tracking is your thing, scoreboards have been set up in the platform to track your engagement in the community threads.

If you’re thinking of hosting your own event, Whova even has a handy step-by-step guide on how to host one.

Display screen for a virtual networking event.

“If you’re a competitive person like me, I like that Whova has scoreboards to track your engagement at the event. Each time I’m there, I try to be number one on the scoreboard, which means putting myself out there. It’s a really great way to drive and encourage people to use the platform.”

Courtney ChristieVidyardSDR

Great for: Meeting people
Accelevents is another one of our favorites as they aim to create virtual event experiences that will rival the impact of traditional events. One of its unique features is that it creates randomized video chats that last five minutes and pairs you up with other people at the conference you may not have met otherwise. It’s a helpful way to encourage attendees to make connections and meet a lot of people in a “speed-networking” type of environment.

Display screen for a virtual networking event.

Great for: Event matchmaking
Brella takes the “speed-networking” approach one step further, with an AI-powered matchmaking algorithm. The algorithm is used to find the best matches for you based on mutual interests and the goals you want to achieve while at the event. Once you’re matched, it sets you up on one-on-one video calls with your matches.

Display screen for a virtual networking event.

Best Practices and Tips for Virtual Networking at Sales Events

Virtual networking opportunities at industry events vary from platform to platform, so don’t be afraid to get creative and take advantage of these opportunities when you can. When sales reps first start in the virtual realm, they often go at networking the same way they would have in the past—the sales team would book off time in their calendars for the events and then wait for people to come to their booth, similar to how it used to happen in person.

Virtual networking platforms still have “booths” where people can come to get in touch with you, but guarding the booth and making sure that you don’t miss any opportunity to chat with someone is no longer the go-to plan.

Learning how to build bridges and connect with people across the platform is how you’ll get the most out of your time at the virtual sales event or conference. With the help of Courtney and Gillian, we’ve rounded up these tips to help you succeed.

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