As life slowly returns to normal it is great to see fans flocking to sports stadia, shoppers returning to the high street and the hospitality industry welcoming back all manner of social gatherings.
On the business front, it is just as satisfying to see awards ceremonies filled with jovial attendees dressed to the nines, bustling trade shows and the return of physical networking events.
Virtual events are great and were a lifeline during the pandemic, but you can’t beat that primal need for physical connection and the pure enjoyment of meeting others face to face.
So, does this mean the end of virtual networking? No. Definitely not. Let’s not forget how successful virtual networking has been during the past 20 months when there wasn’t an alternative. So why should it be discarded now that economic and social restrictions have been lifted?
In fact, although many networking groups have recently hosted their first physical events since the start of 2020, they have decided to alternate such meetings with virtual ones, a hybrid approach that offers the best of both worlds to everyone. If you are unsure as to why there is still a need for virtual networking, then here are a few reasons as to why it is still in demand.
Building trust and credibility on line
People have always done business with those they know and trust but these days that doesn’t mean you have to meet them first. Millions of pounds worth of business has been carried out between small business owners who have never physically met each other. These productive relationships began online at virtual networking events and the trust and credibility is built up over weeks and months.
Time and money well spent
Many believe that a virtual networking event offers a greater return because they don’t spend time and money commuting to and from a venue and therefore, their time can be better used on other tasks. You can even participate in several virtual events a day, as long as the timings don’t clash. The virtual event moderator will allocate separate breakout rooms where you, along with three or four other attendees, can discuss your business and what you are looking for from others. Relationships formed here can be productive for both parties.
Reducing your carbon footprint
With the recent Cop 26 summit fresh in everyone’s minds at the moment it is essential that all businesses do their utmost to tackle the issues causing climate change and one important factor is reducing their carbon footprint. This is where virtual networking holds a big advantage over any physical event for obvious reasons. Private transport is one of the world’s biggest sources of greenhouse gasses and even the shortest journeys cause high levels of CO2 emissions.
No geographical barriers
Following on from the environmental point, participants are not restricted because of where they are based. This opens up business opportunities throughout the UK and abroad, which would not have been possible with a physical networking event.
Participating in a virtual networking event is so easy. You simply logon, join the event and away you go. There is no need to don your business clothes and because you don’t have to leave home in the early hours or return late at night, as you would with a traditional networking event, you have more time to spend with your family.
Easy to grow your network
A virtual event means you will have the contact details of all the participants and following up is quick and easy. You don’t have to physically introduce yourself to everyone and ask for business cards and then go back to the office to start connecting with them. You are also able to connect to a wider audience because of the very nature of virtual networking.
It’s disappointing that it has taken a pandemic for people to embrace the latest technology and understand that they don’t have to travel miles to every meeting, when an equally rewarding experience can be enjoyed remotely. The future as every business owner knows is unpredictable, but there is one certainty, virtual networking isn’t going away.
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