This year has been especially difficult for those involved in planning and speaking at conferences. They are wonderful for learning, networking and finding business opportunities. Not being able to attend one in person is disappointing. In fact, I received my first job from a networking contact I met while volunteering at a conference almost 30 years ago.
In response to the stay-at-home order, virtual conferences are quickly becoming the “new normal.” I have already spoken at one virtual conference this summer, and I am attending or participating as a moderator in three more virtual conferences next month.
Since attending my first virtual conference over three years ago, I have seen their popularity increase. I have also noticed companies that offer platforms to host virtual conferences. These platforms include a virtual location for demonstrations, keynotes and sessions. There are also opportunities to network in the virtual lobby, expo hall and meeting rooms for exhibitors or recruiters at job fairs. Many virtual conferences also have giveaways for attendees who visit virtual expo booths or share on social media.
With this week’s NextGen Government Training Summit, I have compiled a list of 22 tips to get the most out of virtual conferences. (All tips may not be applicable based on the virtual conference platform being used.)
Before the Virtual Conference
Tip 1: Get dressed ready to appear on screen in a well-lighted area during the conference.
Tip 2: Post your photo or business card profile in the conference networking area.
Tip 3: Post your excitement about attending the conference on social media.
Tip 4: Make appointments to meet with recruiters, career coaches and vendors during the conference.
During the Virtual Conference
Tip 5: Hang out in the virtual lobby and ask others what part of the conference they found valuable.
Tip 6: Visit at least three expo vendors or exhibitors with pre-planned questions to learn more about their products and services.
Tip 7: Participate in any scavenger hunt and giveaway activities.
Tip 8: Ask questions during sessions to better understand concepts.
Tip 9: Elaborate on concepts in the chat with participants during sessions.
Tip 10: Arrive early to the session. You will not be able to find out what you missed from the person sitting next to you.
Tip 11: Introduce yourself and greet everyone in the chat before the session.
Tip 12: Download any handouts or request handouts from the presenter offline.
Tip 13: Complete evaluations for each session you attend.
Tip 14: Connect with participants and schedule time to talk afterward to get their opinion.
Tip 15: Provide a thumbs up, applause or comments in response to valuable concepts shared.
Tip 16: Create an action plan to use at least three things you learned in the next week and month.
Tip 17: Schedule an appointment to watch recordings of at least two sessions in the established viewing timeframe.
After the Virtual Conference
Tip 18: Follow up and connect with the presenter on social media.
Tip 19: If allowed, post a photo screenshot of the sessions you attended to social media.
Tip 20: Post the top three things you learned and tag the conference on social media.
Tip 21: Write an article or blog about what you learned at the conference.
Tip 22: Share what you learned in emails and virtual meetings with colleagues.
Adelle J. Dantzler, M.S. Ed., has advanced from a GS-3 student worker to a GS-15 Human Resources Specialist in the federal government. She has used her master’s experience in instructional design to create innovative, customized virtual and instructor-led courses and curriculums at the high potential, team leader, GS-15, and senior executive levels at four federal agencies. As a Federal Job Search Trainer/Career Coach, she has successfully coached hundreds on the job search and facilitated career management, leadership and team-building with her certifications as a MBTI® & FIRO-B® Practitioner, Crucial Conversations and InsideOut Coaching Presenter, and EQ-i2.0 and CCL 360 coach.