Five Top Tips for Maximizing the Virtual Conference Experience
We’re in strange times aren’t we? Normally at this time of year I’d be writing about the excitement of the upcoming in-person conferences, with top tips for maximizing your learning, networking, and career development. Sadly this is not the case this year. The proliferation of virtual conferences is pronounced. I’m sure all of these conferences were being held last year, but as one can only attend so many in person, I wasn’t really aware of just how many are going on. It feels like every third email I get is an invitation to another virtual conference.
In some ways, the opportunity for learning and professional development has never been greater, but the networking opportunities have never been lesser. Since this is the first virtual conference season for all of us, let’s look at some top tips for maximizing your learning and networking experience.
No. 1: Choose an Attendance Strategy
Attending all of the conferences would simply be exhausting. You’d also fail to get any work done for about four weeks, which would certainly be detrimental to your career! There are two major attendance strategies from which to choose. Pick one and stick with it.
Strategy 1: Choose one or two Conferences and Dive In
One strategy is to choose one or two of the most interesting conferences and dive in. Block out your calendar for the conference days, sit back with a coffee, and enjoy the festivities. This strategy is analogous to choosing the prix fixe meal or blue plate special – you get what they give you. On the plus side, you’ll be done with the conference learning quickly. On the downside, you’ll get a narrow perspective, and your opportunity to speak with a wide variety of speakers will be limited.
Strategy 2: Choose the Best Sessions from Each Conference
Another strategy is to sign up for all of the conferences, then look at all of the sessions in aggregate to pick the most interesting ones from each conference to attend. This strategy is like choosing from the a la carte menu. On the plus side, you’ll get a variety of information most suitable for your needs. On the negative side, you’ll be utterly inundated with reminder emails and have to navigate numerous platforms, only some of which will work some of the time. You may find it difficult to schedule sessions over several weeks instead of all at once over one to three days.
Whichever strategy you choose, don’t deviate from it.
No. 2: Participate in the Chat to Show You’re There and Engaged…