Solving a Networking Issue at Hybrid Events

Author: Convene Editors       

networking hybrid events

How can virtual and in-person attendees interact at hybrid events? Members of the PCMA Catalyst community discussed the topic in a recent thread.

PCMA’s Catalyst community offers members a platform to ask each other questions, share ideas, or, as the website says, “communicate and collaborate.” Here’s a sampling from a recent Catalyst discussion.

Connecting Virtual and In-Person Attendees
“We are embarking on planning for our hybrid meetings and one area we seem to be struggling with is how to successfully integrate the in-person attendees with the virtual attendees at networking events,” Kimberly Coerr, senior meeting manager, the Optical Society, wrote on the PCMA Catalyst forum. “At a coffee break, let’s say, we foresee all our in-person attendees congregating with each other to chat, and we see our virtual attendees using a digital forum to network, but how do we get an in-person attendee to network with a virtual attendee? If you have been able to do this, would you share your methods? I know answers might not be that easy to come by as there really haven’t been that many hybrid meetings yet. Thanks in advance!”

What we did for one of our clients is set up 10 monitors that were each connected to a Zoom laptop. We had headphones and a mic for each Zoom monitor. We also provided disposable covers for the headphones. Attendees took turns jumping on Zoom and speaking with the virtual attendees.

— Amilcar Mendez, Managing Partner, Rayne Event Tech & Lounge

Amilcar provided a solution for how his team managed this at a client event. As an alternative, think about the overall goal to create networking opportunities. The attendees want to network but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the blend of in-person with the virtual. It doesn’t have to be forced. I would think that those on-site would be hungry for in-person, face-to-face networking after not attending a physical event in a year rather than connecting to a virtual attendee. In fact, it is likely a key reason they decided to attend. The virtual attendees don’t want to be left out of the networking opportunity and will appreciate you creating the opportunity for them to connect with other virtual attendees.

— Michael Guerriero, President, Digitell, Inc.

Echoing what [another reply says] — you can set up a few laptops or monitors so attendees can walk up and chat with fellow virtual attendees. They could even have one-to-one video sessions as well, depending on the platform you are utilizing. If you want to be even more creative, you are set it up as a “coffee shop style” area. A few couches and coffee tables, where people can chat with virtual attendees.

Our platform is actually mobile optimized — so attendees can log in on their phones and chat with virtual attendees that way as well. Hope this helps!

— Beatriz Lopez, Digital Sales Development, Freeman

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