Is there any doubt that our virtual meeting skills have skyrocketed in the past year? We’ve moved online for meetings with our teams, customers, colleagues, and associations and learned how to navigate numerous hosting platforms—one positive emerging from the pandemic.
SAMPS began hosting virtual networking meetings in June 2020 to help sales and marketing professionals in life science industries to keep their outreach and collaboration efforts from grinding to a complete halt during the pandemic. Plus, who couldn’t use more visual and vocal interactions when we are isolated from most of our normal activities?
Now that they have hosted seven online networking events, SAMPS asked several participants for feedback about their experiences. Here’s what they learned.
Participants discovered the SAMPS virtual networking events by a number of different means:
- Internet searches for meetups and networking events for the life sciences
- The North Carolina Life Sciences Connect calendar
- The SAMPS LinkedIn page
- LinkedIn groups such as the Life Science Executive Exchange
Some people have been involved with SAMPS for many years and joined the new events when they began. Participants who were “in the know” early on have participated in the monthly gatherings since the June 2020 inaugural event. These early birds report having met and talked with 10 to 30 different people in the June to December events.
Even those who learned of the networking events later have tended to make it a monthly calendar entry. In just three to four months, these newbies report meeting from 3 to 10 new people per event, depending on how many speed networking rounds they chose to take on.
What keeps them coming back, you ask? Participants cite several different reasons:
- Young and seasoned professionals alike value the speed networking to make new connections.
- A professional who is looking for a new role in a new location finds it a great way to network and learn about new opportunities while meeting interesting and talented people.
- Multiple participants describe their appreciation for being able to connect with industry professionals from around the globe.
- Nearly all respondents cite the pleasure of talking with the friendly, interesting people they meet during the events.
In the “most enjoyable aspect” category, getting to talk with great people was the winner! Attendees also said they like “meeting many different types of people I probably wouldn’t meet even without the pandemic” and “having a focused time for networking while working virtually.” They also like the format of the speed networking rounds because they are initially short but with the opportunity to extend the time or automatically share contact information so the conversation can be continued later.
The participants described several different ways in which the events have helped them grow professionally:
- The events have helped them build their networking and one-on-one discussion skills and comfort level. One young professional explained that the events helped him “feel more comfortable with virtual networking now, and I can't wait to do it in person.”
- The events also helped participants discover how the industry works in other parts of the U.S. and the world.
- One participant said “it has allowed me to also make some meaningful connections that can easily open additional doors in the near future.”
All of the respondents said they would recommend the virtual networking events to others in the industry. As one participant describes, “I am really enjoying the people I am meeting and it is giving me a different perspective with regards to new regional networking opportunities in addition to working in different types of companies—large, small, startups—in various aspects of science.” Others expressed that it is great to have an organization focused on the marketing and sales side of the industry, and that it’s a good way to learn about different approaches being used in life science marketing.
The SAMPS 2020 finale was a virtual holiday event that was a smashing success! Bonni Scepkowski led in the prep of a SAMPS holiday cocktail—the Santarita, followed by Dale Yuzuki who presented timely information about the status of COVID-19 vaccine development and clinical trials. Lively discussions commenced and the evening was rounded out with speed networking. It was a fantastic way to celebrate the many ways SAMPS has helped life science pros keep moving and in-touch during a uniquely challenging year.
Be sure to mark your calendars with the SAMPS 2021 events line-up that includes more virtual networking, webinars, local meetups, and annual conferences on both sides of the Atlantic. See you there!