Online networking events can be easier and more effective than in-person events. Here’s why you should try them today.
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It’s no surprise that as technology advances, we’re spending more time online — and less time socializing offline. Even when we are offline, we often have our eyes on a smartphone.
Guess what’s finally catching up with our online lifestyle? Networking. (Click here to tweet this thought.) We still have the nametags and handshakes in crowded conference rooms and bars, but online events are becoming increasingly popular, making it easier for companies, universities and organizations to bring their members together regardless of geographical distance.
And it’s only getting better! Here are four reasons online events are truly the future of networking:
1. Online networking events let us blend online with “real” life
Isn’t that what we all want? For online experiences to foster real-life relationships?
Mobile devices, texting and social media have blurred the lines between the physical and the online. Being present is still important, but our online interactions make it far more convenient to show up and interact.
Most in-person events seem to attract two types of people: those who miss half the event because they’re called away to respond to phone calls or messages, and those who have their heads buried in their devices most of the time. The latter group is already exchanging ideas and feedback online through hashtags, email threads and Facebook comments — so why not take that online chatter and bring it to the forefront?
2. Online connections are easier to make — and to maintain
Social media has redefined networking by allowing us to connect more easily to people we know. Online events are an extension of that trend, but allow us to find new, receptive people to add to our networks.
Adding someone on Twitter or LinkedIn is pretty easy. But converting conversations into valuable contact during a physical networking event is difficult. When we start to rub elbows, our memories often fail us. Paper business cards flow freely, but are easily lost or forgotten. Asking someone to “bump” phones usually brings strange looks, but it’s not even as awkward as trying to type someone’s email address into your phone without botching the spelling.
When events take place online, all the information you could possibly want is available in the cloud. Plus, connecting on LinkedIn or other social networks feels more natural and can be more meaningful after an initial online interaction.
3. Online events are accessible and inclusive
We’re so used to face-to-face interaction that it seems hard to replace. But online events can make it easier for participants to exchange information without ever leaving their homes or offices. In that way, online networking events are not only less expensive for companies, organizations and individuals; they also offer a better return on investment.
Potential participants are no longer discouraged by travel costs or tight schedules. If you have an Internet connection, you can attend from your home, office or even the road. For both hosts and attendees, taking events online can return major savings.
4. We value online interactions more than ever
As more of our interactions take place online, we’re gaining more trust in our networks. We’re building personal brands instead of hiding behind screen names. In fact, you often need that online brand to move forward with your career.
As a result, the value of online events is increasing. One survey reported that people were even willing to pay more to attend an online event than they would for a physical one. And when people actually want to attend networking events, that’s where you should show up, too.
What do you think? Would you rather attend an online or in-person networking event?
Ryan Healy is COO and Co-Founder of Brazen Careerist.