virtual meeting

How to Make the Most of a Virtual Conference

As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt business and the ability to meet in person, major conferences have taken an enormous hit. Organizations accustomed to hosting large gatherings have been forced to cancel their events throughout the past year. Today, there are fewer opportunities for professionals to network in person and discuss the latest advancements in their industries.

Everything from school to family gatherings has gone online. However, conferences have also realized that they can take advantage of the power of technology and make their events virtual. While not creating quite the same environment, virtual conferences are still helpful. They allow both attendees and presenters to build their network and have a valuable experience.

If you are planning to attend a virtual conference soon, keep in mind the following things to get the most out of the opportunity. 

Start by Investigating the Virtual Conference Platform

With a large number of events and meetings moving online quickly, it is apparent that quality differs amongst the different support platforms. Understanding your ability to engage with the presenters and communicate with other attendees can be the difference between success and a waste of time and money. 

Before you commit to attending, research the platform the conference uses and learn how to use it. You can also seek help from the host before you join. Learn as much as you can about its features. Learn from the experiences of others who have attended similar conferences virtually. Investigate answers to questions such as:

  • How much interaction and engagement is possible between attendees and the presenter? Would you be able to network as you would normally?
  • Will there be opportunities to explore different areas of the platform– such as a lounge to network with other attendees or breakout room discussions to dive in deeply to a particular topic?
  • How will the host use digital features such as gamification, to engage attendees and help you get to know other attendees at the conference?

How to Make the Most of the Conference

Business events and conferences are often the primary way to network and build your prospect funnel. Networking with industry experts, building a list of important contacts, and establishing yourself as an experienced professional can help you build a successful career.

Quick Tips

Below are quick tips that will help you to make the most of the virtual conference experience.

  • Turn on your chat capacity to receive inbound messages to connect with like-minded peers. Around 40 percent of attendees are open to this option. Some are high level executives you might never have reached at an in-person conference.
  • Plan out which sessions you want to attend. Join groups on social media or follow relevant hashtags to learn who will attend the different sessions. Use this information, along with the topic and presenter background, to plan out the optimal schedule. Since the conference is online, you will likely experience greater flexibility to attend sessions. Recorded content might even give you the chance to continue listening on your own time.
  • Participate in well-planned networking opportunities offered by the host during the conference. For example, take part in games and work to get your name up on leaderboards to build name recognition. If there are round-table discussions or open Q&A sessions, take the time to participate in these as well.
  • Follow up with connections after the event. The people you virtually met during the conference should become your next connections on LinkedIn. Use the momentum from the conference to begin building this new relationship and nurturing new branches of your network.

Many brands have turned to virtual conferences with the number of regular events forced online over the past year. While it seems challenging to create a rewarding experience, the right platform, and a mindset towards networking can make all the difference. As you plan to attend your next virtual conference, see how these ideas can help you create a quality experience. Contact us today to learn proven strategies for your next virtual conference that will ensure a successful experience.