Attending a Virtual Conference? Here's How to Make the Most of It
Updated: May 15, 2020
Our team planned to fly to Las Vegas next week for the annual BDO Alliance USA Conference. But, as we all know, a lot of things have changed this year. So, instead of hopping on a plane, we will be hopping online for this year’s conference, which will be held virtually from May 18-May 21.
As our lives have recently moved to a digital platform, we are all learning how to adapt. Members of our team have attended this conference in person for more than a decade, but the virtual format is brand new for this event. We thought it would be helpful to share our list of tips to make the most out of your virtual conference experience!
BEFORE THE CONFERENCE
1. Familiarize yourself with the speakers. As usual, there is an impressive lineup of amazing speakers. To enhance your experience, find out a little bit about the speakers and their companies. Visit their websites, and don't forget to find and follow them on social media to look for updates or other important information. This gives you a great idea of who they are, what they do, and what knowledge they can offer you!
2. Connect on social media. For a virtual conference, social media plays an even more important role than before. Make sure you follow BDO Alliance USA on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter as well as the speakers and other attendees on social media. Social media is a great way to connect and address questions after the conference. It’s also a great way to stay connected with the BDO Alliance and find a way to share the conference with others, even if you can’t be physically present. Follow (and use!) the hashtag #BDOLV20 to stay in the loop on conference happenings.
3. Plan which sessions you will attend. First things first: Make sure you're registered! Even though you aren’t attending in person, make sure to plan ahead and set time aside for the sessions you want to attend. Utilize the Add to Calendar links on the conference agenda to add sessions directly to your calendar.
4. Choose the best location to watch with limited interruptions. Whether you will be participating from your office or home office, it’s important to find a quiet location to watch each session. Find a place where you can avoid interruptions so you can get the most from the session and have a chance to follow up with any questions you may have. If you are working from home with other family members or roommates, let them know ahead of time that you will be unavailable during the conference time.
5. Make a plan for digital networking. Conferences offer more than just education, but also an opportunity to network with other industry professionals and potential clients. When attending a virtual conference, try to make up for the lack of face-to-face networking as much as possible. Before the conference, determine a plan for digital networking, Update your company and personal profiles on the Alliance portal as well as your personal and business social media profiles.
TIP: Be sure to log in to the conference first thing on Monday morning and set up your conference profile so you're ready to virtually network inside the conference platform.
DURING THE CONFERENCE
1. Limit distractions. You found the perfect place to attend your sessions and let those around you know that you're unavailable. Now, don't forget to silence your phone and hide computer notifications so you can fully concentrate on the session. There's nothing like missing some valuable information because you were distracted by a notification!
2. Actively participate in each session. Take notes, ask questions, and interact as much as possible. Utilize the interactive tools in the platform to connect with other participants. Staying engaged and participating throughout the sessions makes it possible to stand out in a digital environment just as you would at an in-person event. After each session, take the time to review your notes and jot down your new contacts while the information is still fresh.
3. Divide and conquer with your work team to ensure all sessions are covered. The BDO Alliance conference covers so much information and there are sessions on topics that are relevant to just about every member of your team. Include as many team members as you can so you can all learn about different topics and share the knowledge with each other after the session. Encourage team members to connect with other participants in their sessions so you can take advantage of networking opportunities.
4. Utilize social media. Join in the conversation and take full advantage of the opportunity to connect through Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook throughout the conference. Post updates on the sessions you are attending. Remember to keep posting with #BDOLV20 so other participants can find you and you can find them. Make sure to engage by commenting, liking, and sharing posts from others. When your posts include the #BDOLV20 hashtag, they will also be included on the Social Wall inside the virtual conference platform!
5. Take full advantage of digital networking. Many virtual conferences, including the BDO Alliance Conference, have special areas inside their virtual platform to increase networking opportunities. Be sure and create your individual profile first thing so you can connect with other participants and they can connect with you! Use the communications center to see the list of attendee profiles to re-connect with folks you already know and make new connections. You can even message other profiles to arrange virtual meet ups! Be proactive and take advantage of every networking opportunity available.
AFTER THE CONFERENCE
1. Take some time to process everything you learned. When the conference is over, do a brain dump. Review your notes and make plans to incorporate new ideas and takeaways. Meet (online) with your team to discuss new concepts and the best ways to utilize information. Make a note of contacts new and old, and make a plan to follow up!
2. Thank the team that prepared the conference. Don’t forget to thank and acknowledge the BDO Alliance team for their hard work putting together the conference. Planning a conference isn’t an easy task, but adapting to an entirely new environment in a short amount of time was a HUGE accomplishment! We’re sending lots of virtual high-fives for a job well done! The BDO Alliance team never disappoints!
3. Continue networking. Keep the momentum going and continue networking with your new contacts. Who knows? Maybe you will get to meet in person at next year’s conference.
We will be posting throughout the conference on our social media pages. If you will be attending the BDO Alliance conference, give us a shout so we can follow your posts too!
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