5 min read
Toucan is great because it allows you to move among various groups that are happening simultaneously. That’s just to say that it recreates the feeling of being at an in-person networking event. And there’s one thing that’s always awkward when mingling in-person: leaving a conversation.
When you’re in-person, there are excuses that you can use, such as: wanting to get food/a drink, needing to go to the restroom, or seeing a friend in another group. When you’re socializing virtually, you don’t have some of these excuses; however, you have technology on your side. There are other ways to get out of a conversation and help others do so as well, using features of the platform. Here are a couple sneaky ways to leave a group (that I’ve used successfully).
I’m not saying that you should assume that every single 👋 you receive means that whoever sent it wants to talk to you that second, but it does mean that they’re a friend - or at least a friendly face at the event. Understand that anyone who sends you a 👋 or 🧡 is someone that you can use as an excuse to leave your group if you need one. You can always say, “I’d like to go say hi to ______.”
Similarly, if someone sends you a private message, that’s a perfect time to say, “______ just sent me a message and wants to talk to me, I’m going to see what’s going on in their group.” I’ve never encountered anyone who wasn’t understanding when I told them this.
If you want explicitly to give someone the option to switch groups, just send them a private message saying, “Hey, come join my group!” or “I have someone I’d like you to meet.” You can also send them a 👋 emoticon, indicating that you’re waving at them. This will catch their attention and could then prompt them to tell whomever they’re speaking with, “Let me see what _____ wants to tell me.”
If you see someone pop into the event that you especially want to talk to, you can tell whomever you’re speaking with (nicely) that you would really love to catch up with that other person because you haven’t seen them in a while. People rarely take this personally, though you may feel a little awkward doing it. Just be polite.
Simply put, if you’re leaving a group and don’t want to come across as rude, you can casually tell your group that you’ll be back later. Whether this is true or not, it implicitly suggests that you’re still interested in chatting with them, and they won’t feel slighted.
On Toucan, Meeting Spots are used to provide structure in an otherwise unstructured event. You can think of them as labeled tables. If there is a Meeting Spot that catches your eye, feel free to tell whomever you’re talking to that you’re going to jump to that Spot to discuss that specific topic and meet with others with that same interest.
Practically all Toucan hosts want their attendees to meet new people at their events. But people vary in their levels of extroversion, and some folks are more comfortable jumping into conversations with people they don’t know than others. As the host, you can build “speed dating” (more like “speed networking”) into your event. Every couple of minutes, you can get up on stage in Presenter Mode and tell everybody to “please leave your groups and find another group.” You can even impose a maximum on the number of people that can be in a group, saying that if there are more than X number of people in the group already, you should not join. That way, people don’t feel like they are stuck in a conversation for too long.
Just like at an in-person event, where you can tell whomever you’re speaking with that you need to run to the restroom, take a quick phone call, or grab something to eat or drink, you can do that on Toucan, too. You can always leave the group you’re in with any of those excuses, float off by yourself, and put yourself on “Do Not Disturb” mode. You can do this by hovering your mouse over your own video and clicking the lock icon. That way, everybody will see your status as “busy,” and you can take a breather.
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Antonia Hellman is co-founder and CEO of Toucan.
She is a recent graduate of Stanford University, having studied political science and economics.
She enjoys long walks to explore new cities, listening to audiobooks on 1.2x speed, a cup of hot water, and re-watching mediocre movies.
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