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Zoom has been a big talking feature for many events organisers and networkers during the pandemic. Many of us having to change up the way we network and move to online networking. For us at IWant2Network this has inspired us to start creating online networking events, thanks to many of our attendees sharing their joy for no longer having to commute to their networking events, and having the options to connect with more people without interruptions, using tools such as breakout rooms.

WHAT ARE ZOOM BREAKOUT ROOMS?

Breakout rooms are a great feature that Zoom have added to their online video conferencing software that we at IWant2Network utilise to encourage open and speed networking conversations for our members. They are essentially a way to help members break off into separate video meetings with other attendees, without having to shuffle into a different room in real life!

WHY SHOULD I USE BREAKOUT ROOMS FOR MY NETWORKING EVENT?

The breakout rooms on Zoom have a few key features that we love to use, and wanted to share with you in case you are also looking to host networking events, or are a guest and wondering what they will do for you as an attendee.

They enable a great feature for attendees to have speed networking without the background noise, or for you as a host to create smaller groups that can have focused conversations – as we do in our Zoom around and mini 121’s.

WHAT ARE THE FEATURES OF THE ZOOM BREAKOUT ROOMS?

There are a lot of features to the Zoom Breakout rooms, so we wanted to share the way we use them, to help inspire you for your meeting, or if you are a guest, to know what to expect when you visit one of our Speed60 or Networking90 events!

  1. As a host, we have two options for making breakout rooms – randomised or manual.
    1. Randomised – this feature enables Zoom to simple randomly select attendees and put them into rooms together, with the number of people the host selects (up to 6)
    2. Manual – if you prefer, you can manually put members in groups together in their breakout rooms. This can be a really good way for hosts of events to put complimentary members together in the rooms for more focused meetings, or discussions.
  2. Set the amount of time – then sit back and relax. Breakout rooms allow you to set a certain amount of time for them to last for, and then the members can be moved to different groups, or can come back to the main meeting once the time is up. You can even add a countdown timer for your members to see when their time is almost up, so they can wrap up their conversations.
  3. Visit the breakout rooms as the host – you can join the breakout rooms if you want to, by joining them as the host and checking in on the attendees. This can be a good way to make sure no one is having any issues, or if they need a nudge for some more questions to ask, if they’re new to networking and need some support.
  4. Send messages to the breakout rooms – this feature enables you as a host to submit prompts or questions to the groups. This is a really good feature if, like us, you have some business activities that help to focus the attendees and bring even more value to their networking. The messages will show up in the group screen for the attendees to view and respond to in the room together.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF BREAKOUT ROOMS VS FACE TO FACE?

We have often held speed networking events, and whilst they were an excellent way for multiple business owners to meet each other (on a face to face setting), we often found that attendees found it distracting because of all the noise going on. This is why we now use Zoom breakout rooms for our Speed60 and Networking90 events, as it completely eradicates this issue, as the attendees get to have focused 121’s and speed networking sessions, in their own groups, without distraction, background noise, and lots of other conversations going on! It also helps us to ensure that the mini 121’s stop on time, as the timer automatically notifies the attendees, and then automatically moves them to a new room, so no-one goes over their time, and people can move on effectively.

The Zoom breakout rooms feature is great for an informal setting of no more than 6 people as well, as they can have a conversation together – this can be great for open networking before the meeting starts, to help build those essential networking relationships, that encourage better networking as a whole.

Have you tried breakout rooms either as a host or as an attendee at a networking event? We’d love to hear your experience, and new ways you have seen or used them!