As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to disrupt businesses and shake our everyday lives, we’ve witnessed an unprecedented number of employees being tasked with working from home. Due to this shift, we’ve also seen a rise in popularity for virtual conferences, which makes sense, since we’re now spending even more time online.
As an increasing number of in-person events get canceled across the globe, the odds are pretty good you’ve been invited to or seen a virtual conference. While change is not always easy to navigate, this is not necessarily a bad thing.
I’ve been a remote worker for a few years now, which means I’ve been attending zoom meetings for a while, too; however, participating in INBOUND 2020 this year will be my first online conference. I decided to do a little research prior to the event on what I could do to ensure I get the most value out of this inbound marketing event. Below are a few tips I discovered that you might find helpful, too!
Tip 1: Embrace Online Conferences
If you want to continue using conferences as a chance to access subject matter experts or network with industry peers, you’ll need to start embracing online conferences.
The situation with COVID-19 is tough on everyone in different ways. Thankfully, many conferences are not canceled, but rather converted into a virtual event. While you might be bummed that you don’t get to attend your favorite conference in-person, we’re all in the same boat, so try and make the best of it and take advantage of what each virtual conference has to offer.
Tip 2: Connect with Other Attendees:
Virtual conferences might lack the intimacy of a physical gathering, but it’s still possible for attendees to connect with each other. Most online events provide opportunities for attendees to connect through live chats, hashtags, Slack channels, and other outlets, including social media.
Tip 3: Don’t Forget to Network
One thing missing from the new online formats is how to network successfully at virtual events. The natural conversations that evolve when you sit next to someone in a session or do the rounds at an after-conference networking event might not be feasible online, but that doesn’t mean virtual events offer no networking possibilities at all.
First, you’ll want to make sure to immediately publicize your attendance after you register for a virtual event. This could be done through posting a new blog or sharing it on your social media outlets.
Next, you’ll want to weed through the attendees list. Most virtual event platforms use a platform that gives attendees an option to meet each other virtually. The platform should be set up with a messaging facility to arrange one-on-one virtual meetings, video calls, or appointments. It should also allow you to set up chat rooms based on similar interests or invite others to join breakout sessions to help initiate networking.
Tip 4: Remove Distractions Around You
Remember that attending an online conference is similar to enjoying one in person. During in-person conferences, the only real distractions are the people sitting in the same session around you. However, once you go into a session to listen to a speaker, you have one focus: the speaker. Try to retain that same mentality when you log into a virtual session by removing external distractions.
How can you silence those distractions? Start by turning on your out of office message on your email so you’re not enticed to check your email and answer. If you had attended this event in a face-to-face format, you would have canceled appointments and completed projects before you arrived, and that shouldn’t be any different in this setting.
Tip 5: Get Dressed
This last tip might seem obvious or even silly, but it’s important to remember! I know for me, when I don’t get dressed appropriately for a meeting, I don’t feel as confident. When I don’t feel confident, I’m not as willing to share my video camera and engage as though I’m attending a real marketing conference. Getting dressed is my way of saying to myself I’m ready for business.
Get the Most Out of Virtual Conferences!
Due to the convenience, low cost, and eco-friendly nature of virtual conferences, we should expect to see a surge in popularity for these in the coming years. Though they’re not face-to-face, these events can still be an effective educational and networking tool if you take them as seriously as in-person events — and that’s the key. Your commitment, focus, and engagement have a large impact on your overall experience, so keep these tips in mind when you RSVP to your next virtual conference!
At Design Extensions, our team loves any chance to learn. That’s why one of our core values is experience. In the current climate, it’s important to keep learning wherever and however you can so you can get new ideas to grow your business. If you need a little extra help, get in touch with our team!