Over the past year the Covid-19 pandemic has forced event-hosting organizations in every industry to either cancel their live events or take them online. If you haven’t attended one yet, virtual events don’t much resemble their non-virtual predecessors, where people shook hands and met up for happy hour after a day’s worth of sessions at a swanky hotel.
Yet, despite the drawbacks, they offer some surprising benefits, such as immediate access to recorded content and slides. You don’t need to travel to get there, and you can come dressed as you are (just turn off the camera). Some virtual meeting platforms offer cool chat features that facilitate networking, and you save on time spent meandering around the conference venue since you can simply click to join a session.
But as virtual events are somewhat unchartered territory for many hosts and attendees, a little planning and preparation are needed to ensure you get the most out of the experience. Here are 7 tips to consider before you register and log in:
1. Get familiar with the virtual event platform.
Most of us are now used to Zoom, Webex and other meeting platforms. But many organizations use more advanced meeting platforms to host large events, such as Bizabo, Hopin, Cvent and more, and navigating them can be challenging for a virtual event newbie. Don’t wait until the last minute to download and explore the software and make sure it works properly on your computer. The last thing you want to do is miss part of the conference while you’re scrambling around trying to get the platform up and running.
2. Know what you want.
Before you attend any event, it’s important to set goals and objectives for what you want to get out of it. This is particularly important for virtual events, as you have a lot of choices at your fingertips. Even though you’re not physically traveling to the event, you’re still investing the time, so make the most of it. Review the agenda ahead of time, and commit to the sessions that are most relevant and interesting. Then, stick to your plan!
3. Don’t get distracted.
Whether you’re at home with other family members or masked up in a quiet office, eliminating distractions during virtual events is critical. Find a quiet place that’s comfortable — but not too comfortable — as you’ll be sitting at the screen for an extended period of time. Let office mates or family members know that you’re unavailable, and close other tabs and software — especially your email. Plan your meals and breaks around the conference schedule, so you don’t miss anything important.
4. Make it a point to network.
At in-person events, networking comes naturally — you bump into people in the halls and at meal times, and sit next to other attendees during sessions. That’s one of the key advantages of in-person events. When everything’s online, networking takes a bit of effort. Come prepared with a list of people and vendors you’d like to connect with, and let them know ahead of time you’ll be attending. Schedule quick meetings in advance during conference breaks, and leverage any in-platform chat and messaging apps to engage. But remember: be respectful of others’ time. They don’t want to miss any of the event either, so be willing to schedule around sessions.
When it comes to vendors, check their websites and social platforms prior to the event to see what they’re planning for the show. Don’t hesitate to reach out and schedule a meeting if there’s someone you want to connect with.
5. Got a pen handy?
When everything is digital and you know the sessions are being recorded, it’s tempting to leave old-school note-taking behind. Bad idea. Research shows that people retain more information when they physically write things down. Sure, you can download the slides and recorded content, too, but notes will help you remember and locate the most interesting points and information later.
6. Take breaks.
Take advantage of any scheduled breaks between speakers and sessions to stand up, stretch or walk outside and breath in some fresh air. You’ll be more alert and ready to absorb the great content you signed up for. There may also be times during the show that there is not an applicable session you are interested in. Make a note of these time periods – this is a great time to check on your email or grab some lunch.
7. Know your options.
The best part about virtual events is that they’re less expensive and easier to attend than in-person events — so you’re able to fit more in, if you would like! There are even some events that are free to attend. Take some time to learn about upcoming events in the construction industry, and choose the ones most relevant to you and your firm.
Get Prepared for the New Year!
As you gear up for 2021, it’s important to arm yourself with lots of great information, as well as all the tools and technologies you need to make the new year a successful and prosperous one. Check out TrueLook’s selection of construction cameras as you plan your upcoming projects. You might also want to check out our on-demand webinar, “Preparing for the 2021 Build Season,” for more useful tips!