Tools for Virtual Networking Before Arriving at an Event

September 21, 2014

Hit the ground running at your next industry event! Make contact and connections with others in your field before you arrive at the venue so that your face-to-face meetings are productive and not centered around “Who are you?” and “What do you do?” questions. New technology is popping up daily to address this very issue. Below are a few new and old, but good, ways to network prior to an event.

Event Web Site

Many events offer a web portal that requires a login and profile. This isn’t just an extra hassle put in place to annoy you.  In most cases, this collection of personal data is then used to match you with similar colleagues or those looking for your products and services. Set aside five minutes, a few weeks out from the event, to complete your profile and search the exhibitor and attendee lists. In these five minutes you may uncover a gold mine of potential business contacts that you otherwise would not have found just by roaming the expo floor. Usually, the website offers a way to securely/privately email individuals that you are interested in so that you can schedule an onsite meeting without cold calling or hassling them. 


Updating your LinkedIn profile is crucial, as it is becoming more common for networking tools to connect with individuals’ LinkedIn profiles so that a new profile is not required.  Once your profile is current, look for the official event group or page on LinkedIn and join or connect with it.  Then follow and post to the discussions started by the group.  You will quickly find new connections through others who have joined the group.  Make individual connections with those posting on topics of interest or who work in your field. Offer to meet face-to-face at a session or networking event scheduled during the conference or expo.

Mobile App

Download the events mobile app which can be very useful for researching exhibitors that you want to meet and selecting the sessions that you would like to attend.  Some apps allow you to make direct contact with exhibitors to schedule onsite meetings. In addition, attendee-to-attendee networking technology is becoming more widely available in event apps.  Some apps utilize the user’s LinkedIn profile for the attendee-to-attendee networking feature.  This not only saves you time in that you do not have to create a second profile, but it also allows the connections that you make at the event to live beyond the event dates.  These connections are now also part of your LinkedIn network. You can use the app’s networking feature to see who is attending the event.  You may be attending alone and feel apprehensive or intimidated by to do so then this feature can aid in your decision to attend the event or not.  Once you decide to attend and login in to the networking feature you can use the app to search for attendees with like interests and then send emails or request to become a connection.  In addition, some mobile apps offer the ability to post directly to the event’s social media pages from the event app, allowing you to easily follow and start conversations with others at the event.

Professional Contact QRCode

This one may take you out of your comfort zone, but it will make a lasting impression.  When planning to attend a networking function, or if you will be visiting many expo booths, create a QR code that links to your company page, professional website, or LinkedIn profile.  Create stickers with the QR Code that you can place on your name badge.  When you meet someone new and want to share your contact info, ask them to scan your QR code. Your information is now saved in their mobile device rather than at the bottom of a pile of business cards. Be sure to get their info as well, so that you can follow up later.  You can always jog their memory by reminding them that they scanned your QR code.


Planely is an online tool that allows you to connect with others who are travelling in the same direction you are.  You simply enter your travel information (flight details, hotel, and reason for travel) and the tool connects you with others who may be on your flight, staying in the same hotel, or going to the same event. You can now take advantage of this untapped time in your day for meeting new people, sharing a drink or meal, or a cab to the hotel. You never know what may come out of these “chance” meetings.

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.