Network Innovation Spotlight / October 14, 2020

Expanding Local Connections During a Pandemic

Yichun Chen, Program Associate at WorldChicago, explores opportunities for virtual engagement and lessons learned from a recent networking event.

By Yichun Chen, Program Associate, WorldChicago

65fd53d1-a5ef-4185-8aa5-aeb57e2c9861.pngAs part of our effort to expand local connections and keep our community members engaged in the midst of a pandemic, we co-hosted a virtual networking event with the International Trade Club of Chicago. Through this event, more than 60 community members and international professionals connected over Zoom.

A big challenge we faced while planning for the event was how make the event interactive and create space for individualized conversations in a virtual setting. To do this, we assigned attendees into five-person break-out rooms using the randomizer function on Zoom, prepared ice-breaker questions before hand, and re-shuffled the breakout rooms a couple times so that attendees could meet different people. To ensure the event was run smoothly, our staff also practiced the different Zoom meeting functions before-hand during our weekly staff meetings.

The event was successful in achieving our goal of engaging with our current community members while expanding our network in Chicago. We were able to reach people who have not heard about our organizations before, while re-connecting with others. The events also allowed the attendees to expand their own professional networks.