Chances are you’ve attended at least one virtual “happy hour” over the last six months. Perhaps it was a “virtual lunch” or “virtual breakfast” instead.
As with everything in our lives, COVID-19 has (temporarily) put an end to traditional networking, instead leaving us to connect with colleagues and clients via apps like Zoom and Run the World. Not only should your organization be taking advantage of these virtual networking opportunities, but they should also be making every attempt possible to monetize them.
Here are our suggestions for making the most out of your next virtual Happy Hour:
- Have an ongoing series of “lunch and learns” showcasing your members. Simple enough, right? The benefits to this are two-fold: Your members can introduce a new program/service/product to other interested parties within your industry, and by charging a small fee you can make some money off the event. We suggest holding the sessions on a regular basis so that as many of your member groups can partake as possible. (You can also hold them in a “demo day” format, as we did with ASAE this past summer).
- Send out sponsored swag bags (virtual or physical). Who doesn’t love a good swag bag? If you have the RSVP list for an upcoming event locked down far enough in advance, you may want to consider some type of swag bag to attendees to make them feel like they are truly part of the action. Virtual swag bags are great for sponsors who don’t mind sharing electronic content (i.e. videos, PDFs, image files). Physical swag bags, on the other hand, are a bit more costly because they need to be shipped to the attendees — but they can be filled with traditional swag options like koozies and fidget spinners. This is a great option for an event with multiple sponsors; you can have each sponsor pitch in for an item (or two) so they get promotional value long after the event is over.
- Mix up your next networking event through sponsored door prizes and other fun & games. Virtual happy hours may not be the same as in-person ones, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them a fun experience for all by adding structure, format, and fun! We recently sponsored a “Virtual Wine & Tasting Happy Hour”, in which participants received bottles of wine paired with specialty nuts, spreads, and crackers to enjoy during the event. You can also get a sponsor to pay for a hosted conversational game like “The Very Interesting Game” to make the event interactive and get players or views laughing? It can be shaped into a lightly competitive format, and even divided into teams depending on the number of participants in your event. If activities aren’t your thing, try having sponsors provide door prizes and/or discounted services that can be raffled off to attendees. Not only will people be more likely to attend — and participate in the event — but the likelihood that they’ll come to future happy hours (and bring a friend or two along) will increase as well!
Want to learn more about how your association or non-profit can benefit from sponsored happy hours, webinars, and other virtual events? We’d be happy to have a conversation to share what we have seen work for other events and markets. Email us today to set up a free consultation.