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Strategic Networking Tips for Virtual Summit Hosts with Sarah Shotton

Updated: Oct 17, 2021

One of the things that attendees love is the ability to connect - with YOU as the summit host and from time to time, other like-minded individuals a.k.a other awesome people who's attending your event. Today, I'm inviting Sarah Shotton to share her tips on how to be a lead an effective networking group as a Virtual Summit Host so that you can nurture your community (even as an introvert). Enjoy!

R: Hey guys, welcome to today’s video! I’m super excited because today we’re going to talk about “Strategic Networking Tips for Virtual Summit Hosts with Sarah Shotton”. She’s all the way from London and she’s such an expert at networking. And I’ll just have you introduce yourself to us!

S: Thanks so much for having me, Rashidah. It’s so exciting to be here. I am Sarah Shotton, based in London but my accent is from California. So I came to London, I started networking and I build my life basically from the ground up - I knew nobody. And I started to network more and more, and people starts to ask me ‘How do I do it? What’s Your Story? What are your Tricks?’

So I am a Networking Consultant now and I’m super passionate about connecting with people in a really fun and meaningful way.

R: I love that because we kind of met through Networking over Instagram and having that connection. And I could see how important virtual networking is.

So I would like to get your thoughts on how networking can help with personal brand and building a business?

S: Yes, personal branding is so important because when you are networking, your personal brand is basically the first few seconds of someone’s impression of you. So when you are networking, if you can try to make your personal brand stand out in a way that makes other people want to connect with you, and be an ally with you and help you in the future then you are much further ahead and you can meet more people and then when you meet them, it takes a little less time for them to want to reciprocate that.

But what I would say with personal branding & with networking is networking can really to help you to establish credibility so you have a lot of people in you network who can speak to all of your strengths, then your personal brand is reinforced as an expert in your industry because you got all these people who know that you are a credible source.

R: Wow, I’ve never thought about it that way. I love that its like collaboration but also community, and having people speak to you and for you on your strength and skills - I love that so much.

So what are your top 3 networking tips to help Summit Host build that relationship with their audience?

S: My first tip I definitely keeping it personal - so if you can share your personal story, if you can share your personality in general, things that are your hobbies and what you’re interested in, but also the personal outreach approach such as sharing voice notes. Actually, sharing your voice with people.- all those personal touches help with the virtual summit being more of an experience. So that’s my first tip.

Second tip is to make sure that it’s quality over quantity, so you want to make sure that you’re connecting with a quality person who’s interested in your summit and industry so I would say put effort into reaching out and also continuing that relationship over a period of time. As opposed to trying to reaching out to lots of people and only talking to them once.

Lastly, what I would say is going back to the personal branding side of things is really focusing on your strengths, really focusing on what you do differently from a lot of people, when you are doing a virtual summit you’re pretty much pitching yourself to the world. And telling the world why you should care about me and my summit. So when you do that, people don’t really care too much about your credentials but they care about your strengths, the things that you do better than everybody else - making those the top 3 things that you talk about and putting it in a personalised pitch. So that way people actually want to come to your summit because they know your personality but they also know how strong you are in your industry.

R: I really love when you talk about how there’s reciprocity - in the care. When you care about somebody, you check out their stuff or address by name. It really is interesting how people like “oh that’s so great, I’ll check out your stuff too” and I found that with myself as well, the way I interact - when somebody come to me and say my name and check out my stuff, I will check theirs (stuff too) and there’s that beautiful energy that’s bouncing off each other so I love that.

And on the flip side, what’s a big No-No when it comes to networking? In all of your years of experience, I bet you’ve seen some so share with us!

S: Yes! So a big no-no is firstly, not listening and not giving somebody your full blown attention so a lot to times, especially in the virtual world, you can be distracted by your phone or distracted by something else that’s happening and then you just basically tell to the person that I don’t care what you’re saying so you have to focus on the person or people that you’re talking to when you’re networking - that’s number one.

But I would also say, kind of moving on from that, when you are talking to someone, let’s say there’s somebody specific that you are looking for such as a demographic or a type of your ideal customer and when you’re talking to them you realised that they are probably aren’t my ideal customer, don’t stop the conversation there and don’t just cut them off and go “okay well, good to talk to you” and go talk to someone else.

Because they could know someone who is your ideal client, or they could have access to an audience or other resources for you. Not everything is about what they can do for your right now. Its very rude because I have seen this happen before where they ask “do you fit into this box?” And when you say no they go off and say “oh okay nice talking to you”.

So I would say that everybody is important and everybody is worth listening to and you really should be putting yourself out there with a spirit of generosity as oppose to thinking about yourself so those are the no-nos.

R: I love that! And when you mention about the interaction, I’m just curious on what are the ways to set-up a group or community interactions that make it easy to network virtually?

S: I would say number one would be Facebook Groups, I love Facebook group, I have my own group - Networking for Millennials and when you set up that kind of environment, you can definitely interact with lots of other people. Now, Facebook has its own algorithm and maybe you feel like you’re not reaching that many people with Facebook after a while and that’s something that happens.

A thing that I’m seeing now, more than I have in the past is WhatsApp groups. So within Facebook there will be these conversations that will happen that say” Hey, we’re all interested in this particular topic and if you want to join this WhatsApp group, come along and we all can message about this thing”. It’s becoming more and more popular so WhatsApp groups are another thing to do.

And then I would say, lastly some of the things that I find to be really really fun is when you are on Pinterest and you have Pinterest boards, especially if you are in a creative environment or if you are someone who are into marketing or like someone who’s into creative and visual type things - there a lot Pinterest groups that you can join as well and there’s so much more interaction and fun, but obviously Instagram is a community within itself. Instagram is number 1. I wish Instagram had groups like Facebook does, I feel like that would be ideal but they don’t. I mean you can create little chat groups and things but yeah, with Instagram, your following is your community so I would say that is definitely another way to go about it.

R: You know when you mention all these different platforms, I just realised that there’s a lot. There’s so many ways to connect virtually, to communicate and get people in your community, attract your tribe - so many fun stuff and for different types of people and community as well.

So when it comes to networking in a group setting, what should the Virtual Summit Host take note of as the leader of the group and facilitating the conversations?

S: Yeah, I mean there’s a lot to do with facilitating. Firstly, you have to make everyone feel comfortable enough to share, and to interact and to break the ice so to speak. I think the main thing would be to make sure you know exactly what the kind of topic is “What are we talking about?”, “How are going to get people to engage?” “Break the Ice” so that people aren’t too worried about putting themselves out there. But if it’s a virtual but only text (like Facebook Groups), then maybe you might get more interaction. But if its video (such as a Live Virtual Summit), then you do have to bring that icebreaker to the forefront and really get people interested in having that conversation.

But also there has to be structure and rules in place, if you have a group. You want to make sure everyone is being respectful, people aren’t talking over one another, that there is a bit of system in place so that everything runs smoothly. And lastly, making sure that everybody has their say. Because there are times when you have a forum of some sort and you have one person that dominates the conversation of you have that one person that always ask the first question or comment. I think if you take the initiative to ask people specifically, or even use polls, if that’s possible on the platform to say “hey, I would like all of you guys to participate and give me your feedback on something” or “what’s your opinion” then you’ll get everyone involved because a lot of times you get lurkers and they sit in the background and they won’t say anything.

R: And I think it’s important as well to ask positive questions. Because if you ask questions like “What are you struggling with the most right now?”, or something similar, some people might shy away from answering because they don’t want to feel judged or people know now this thing about me.

So the last question that I have for you is for fellow Virtual Summit Host who’s an introvert like me, what are your tips to overcome the shyness to connect?

S: I think there’s so many positives to being an introvert so it’s probably going back to that mindset conversation of telling yourself “Hey, I’m actually the one that is a good listener. I’m someone who is interesting to talk to and I have a lot to bring to the table”. I think those are positive affirmations that you can say to yourself ahead of time as an introvert as opposed to thinking “because I’m an introvert, there’s probably be awkward silence or I won’t know what to say or maybe I’ll say something I don’t want to or its embarrassing whatever. So once you kind of put your head into something like “actually, extroverts can be a little too much, I’m a calm person that would be easily approachable.

Let’s say you’re in a virtual community and you’re the host and you like feel okay, I got to bring the energy, I got to raise the roof. I think what you can really do to get yourself to get on that level is to really think about something that hypes you up and all the reasons why you are running this virtual summit, and just think about that and put yourself in that mindset. So that when it’s time to go live you’ll go “HEY EVERYBODY! LOOK AT THIS” do you know what I mean. Because I’m not naturally that outgoing either, but you can put yourself in that mindset ahead of time.

And I would say as well, make sure that you don’t have anything too stressful on the night before because it’s emotionally draining as an introvert to put yourself out there. You don’t want to be at a party the night party, or trying to overly socialise the night before because you want to be fresh for that particular event.

But also afterwards, looking after yourself, having a little bit of a debrief that you had all of these stimulations and eyes on you, to make sure that you look after yourself as well.

R: I love that! Oh my gosh, there’s so many golden nuggets in this video. I love it especially for Virtual Summit Hosts, even if they are introverts and basically being a leader of that community. I love when you say there has to be a structure in place and taking note when someone is taking all the spotlight and balancing that attention and conversation.

So thank you so much for sharing so many beautiful highlights, beautiful nuggets and I’m pretty sure our community is going to enjoy this content as well.

S: My pleasure, thank you for having me.

For more networking tips, you can connect with Sarah over at:


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