If you are attending a virtual event for the first time, you will certainly have a lot of questions and doubts. The popularity of these kinds of events has grown steadily over the past few years, but in recent months their reach has increased at an unprecedented rate due to the restrictions imposed on live events. This dramatic change has unveiled several unsuspected benefits of virtual formats, from the reduced economic impact of attending trade shows and conferences to the ability to complete the most productive day of your career without leaving your couch and – although not everyone admits it – without giving up the little comforts of your home. If you are attending a virtual event for the first time, what can you do to make the most of the experience? Here are some tips from our experts.
Attending a virtual event for the first time? It will be more challenging than you think!
Even if you have never participated in this kind of event and are not very comfortable with technology, remember that virtual events are events in their own right and require the same amount of effort and concentration as traditional ones. One of the most common mistakes made by those attending a virtual event for the first time is not creating a space (mental rather than physical) to devote to this activity. If you think you can follow the event like you would a TV show, checking your social media from time to time, maybe listening to some music, and keeping several tabs open on your browser, you are wrong. When attending an online event, you need to be 100% present and give your full attention to the interactions that take place on the platform hosting it.
Don’t underestimate networking tools
Every virtual event platform offers a range of networking tools that enable and regulate interactions between participants. They range from chats to panels, from direct messages to public notice boards, from workshops to webinars. Familiarise yourself with these tools right away so that you can use them to their full potential to achieve your goals. Actively participate in conferences and panels, interact with moderators and guests as well as other audience members, and generally focus on networking just as you would at an actual event.
One of the best aspects of virtual events is the ability to attend as many panels and talks as you like, without having to choose. If two interesting speakers are engaged at the same time, you will be able to re-watch the talk you missed and even download it to enjoy at your leisure. This does not mean, however, that it is not important to draw up your own schedule before the event starts. If you are attending a virtual event for the first time, select in advance which meetings and conferences you want to attend in real-time and which ones you want to leave aside for later. Try to participate directly in panels and workshops attended by people or companies you want to connect with: nothing beats the effectiveness of real-time interaction.
Take your networking outside the event
Just as with live events, it is important to nurture new connections early on. If you use a platform that gives you the option of creating a profile, make sure you include all your social media accounts and find out about those of other attendees so that you can send a follow-up message immediately after an interesting meeting. Treat these kinds of relationships just as you would those made at face-to-face events, with the same level of professionalism and commitment.