I love in-person conferences. The new techniques and tips I learn are always fantastic and I most definitely walk away with things that can help grow my business even further but truthfully, I love getting to mix and mingle and network with fellow attendees.
Being in a room with so many like-minded, driven people, it’s only natural to want to connect, share, and engage. Meeting people you can collaborate and bounce ideas off of is truly invaluable and something I really look forward to when I attend live events.
Virtual conferences during COVID-19 are a reality. It has changed the way events like this take place. What was once a packed room, full of eager, ambitious individuals is now a virtual event with attendees tuning in via Zoom and trying to keep their children or dogs from bursting through the door in the middle of a breakout session. Things are very different, there’s no way around that. However, that doesn’t mean that you should write off virtual events. The need to learn, collaborate, and connect with others is still a key way you can propel your business and yourself forward. Here are a few ways you can get the most out of your next virtual event during COVID.
Have a Colleague Join You
If you have a colleague who is attending the same event as you, consider inviting them over to take the event together. You can maintain social distancing while still being in the same space. This will provide some in-person energy you may otherwise feel you are missing out on. Having a colleague there can also help you stay focused during sessions and provide someone to bounce ideas off during breaks. Having someone right there with you lets you share your excitement about some of the ideas you may have heard. You can then discuss things immediately, which builds enthusiasm and momentum. You can order lunch and talk about your favourite speakers and go over your biggest takeaways. Plus, it gives you instant access to someone else’s perspective which is always invaluable, making virtual conferences during COVID-19 really enjoyable.
Treat the Event Like an Event
Just because it’s virtual, does not mean you don’t give it the same attention you would an in-person event. This means you book it in your calendar as an event, show up on time, you rid yourself of distractions (as best you can). Then you show up ready and excited to learn. It can be a little harder to get excited about online events. However, it is critical that you treat it as you would an in-person event. Put on a killer outfit, grab your favourite fuel, and be inspired to learn. Take some time before the event to think about what you’re hoping to get out of it. Then write down any questions you’re hoping to get answered. Be engaged when viewing the conference, take breaks to stretch and re-caffeinate, and be excited you get to connect with so many amazing people virtually.
Make Connections & Seize Opportunities
If there’s a silver lining to events moving online, it’s that there’s a much lower barrier to entry which allows for even more attendees. Typically for an in-person event, you have to travel to the venue, which may involve flying or a hotel stay, pay for your ticket, purchase food, etc. The costs can really add up. Virtual conferences during COVID-19 are available to more people who may otherwise be unable to attend. This means there are even more people to connect with. Staying engaged not only with the presenter but also paying attention to the chat can help you find other individuals you may benefit from connecting with. In fact, if you’re the type that sometimes freezes when it comes to connecting in-person, you may find it far less intimidating to connect with an individual after the event in the form of an email.
Another benefit of online conferences – it gives you the ability to take part in more sessions than you would be able to in person. A lot of conferences have tracks that overlap so you end up missing out on a few speakers. With things being digital, many organizers are offering up full replays of all the offered sessions to attendees. This also means you can re-watch your favourite speakers to uncover even more golden nuggets you may have missed during the live event.
Are things different? Absolutely. Does that mean we stop connecting and learning from our peers? Absolutely not. While I love the energy of in-person events, there are a ton of ways to make virtual events work to your advantage. In the end, it’s really all about perspective. You’ll get out what you put into it. So go in with an open, positive mind and get inspired to learn and connect.
Michele Bailey is president and CEO of Blazing Agency and My Big Idea®. These two lines of business work congruently to support her clients’ success.