Well, first of all, what is open networking?
Open networking is the point of a networking event where you can usually move around the room and freely meet other attendees.
From my experience of open networking online, I have benefitted more when I've joined groups with break out rooms (smaller groups of people) or multiple 1-1 break out session, and this is because there can be a relevant topic of discussion set but also a time limit! This allows all participants to speak with equal time and get their pitch, message, and critical information across.
Some of us can arrive at an online networking event or any networking for that matter without a strategy. This could well be perceived as over the top, but without it could result in time wasted on our behalf, and as business owners, that isn't something we can afford.
The meetings without a break out rooms can be easily dominated by what my colleague refers to as Chatty Kathy, the people merely attending for a social chin chat session or the worst offenders who listen to me until it's time to leave kind of people.
If you find yourself on a meeting of this style and don't feel as though you were able to deliver your online networking strategy to its full capacity, I would be asking if there is a list of attendees available and if it could be emailed to allow you to connect directly and organise 1-1s with the people whom you can help and build relations with away from the meeting.
My strategy is to arrive with a pre-written or memorised elevator pitch, with clear and precise information about my business and the referrals I would like. I would have already requested a list of attendees and highlighted my potential 1-1s or preferred conversations. With the outcome of setting at least one 1-1 shortly following the event.
So for me, the way to get the best out of open networking, especially online, is by doing our homework before attending events, having a clear strategy, a highlighted list of primary attendees, and always making sure you connect with them on Linkedin to be able to grow the relationship through the content you publish.
It's also worth mentioning online networking can be easier to attend in the sense of no commute, less time required to book on, and attendees are vetted and therefore can be a real minefield to find the events you would happily visit again but do be persistent in your search, and most of all don't spread yourself too thinly and feel as though you need to attend all of them. Be on the lookout for a manageable number of meetings where you think you can deliver your knowledge and skillset within your sector regularly.
They allow you to ultimately build your network and surround yourself with your target audience or strong referral partners.