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How to Make Networking in a Virtual Setting Actually Engaging


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From inboxes and Slack channels to texts and DMs, it can feel like we’re in nearly constant communication with co-workers and colleagues. So many messages, so little time. Have you ever felt drained from simply responding all day, and realized you haven’t gotten that much work done?  

The concept of virtual fatigue comes into play with virtual events. You’re behind a screen, watching and learning from speakers and interactive content, doing your best to pay attention and stay focused. We get it: On top of all the other challenges you’re facing, engaging with others virtually may seem energy-zapping. Many of us have been craving face-to-face interaction since the pandemic hit last fall, and trying to network from behind a screen just doesn’t seem like it can be the same—right? 

That’s all changing. Over the past year, we’ve been refining our offerings and launching new tools to help you navigate the complicated world of virtual and hybrid events. We’ve debuted new tools to make a critical part of those events—networking!—fun (really). Hear us out through two case studies. 

Hallway Chatter

No. 1: Hallway Chatter Recreates In-Person Conversations 

The client: Databricks Data+AI Conference 

The challenge: The events team needed a tool that would help combat attendees’ virtual fatigue by empowering them to create video content, keep them engaged and focused, and somehow recreate the feeling of impromptu, in-person hallway conversations that are missing in a typical virtual event. 

The networking solution: Hallway Chatter. This new feature, debuted at the Databricks conference, provides a networking environment built to mimic on-site conversations about topics of interest that people normally have in passing each other in the halls (you know, water-cooler chats, making small talk about the session they just were in, talking about what they’ll eat for lunch, devising plans to work together). It was designed to boost engagement for attendees through relevant, short-form, user-generated video content, akin to TED Talks videos. This could take the form of an attendee sharing a few of their favorite points from a speaker, or an influencer giving a daily rundown of the event. Hallway Chatter gives event organizers control over who they designate to create and share video content, too—whether that’s attendees, influencers, speakers, or other guests.  

The result: This tool was well-received by both influencers and attendees, and we’re predicting this conversation-prompting, user-generated content will be a key component that organizations can leverage in more ways going forward. “We envision having our clients give influencers access to Hallway Chatter to  produce  regular, ongoing content for their event communities with this tool,” says  Schwinger. “Now that user-generated content has come to virtual events, the sky’s the limit to its potential for creating  long-term audience engagement.”  


No. 2: Connecting Virtual and In-Person Attendees Through Video Calls 

The client: BizBash at Connect Tampa 

The challenge: As with any hybrid event, we faced the challenge of helping this event’s virtual audience to feel like they were right there alongside in-person attendees. How could we bring the live stage, which took place Aug. 30-Sept. 2 at Tampa Convention Center in Florida, to those watching from home offices (or living rooms, or bedrooms) throughout the country? 

The networking solution: We implemented one-on-one video chats between our live audience and virtual participants—think of it like FaceTime in a professional setting, but with a playful spin. The live audience could use a function on the event’s mobile app to video-call an attendee who was tuning in on the virtual platform. (All they had to do was log in, select an attendee, and call.) From there, they could chat, walk around the live event to show them around, provide a front-row seat to the live content, or even give them the rundown of the coffee break pastries, providing them with a full, well-rounded experience with the event. (Watch a video of how the chats worked here.) 

The result: In hybrid events, it’s so important to connect the experience for virtual and in-person attendees, and we accomplished that in part by incorporating this video chat. Both in-person and virtual attendees were thrilled with the feature, reporting having fun with the tool. Virtual participants reported feeling there without actually being there, and being well-connected to the live content.  


Any time that networking, whether in-person or virtual, feels more like fun than a drag, you know you’re doing something right. Learn more about MeetingPlay’s tools for engagement, including networking features, by scheduling a demo. 

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