At Rocket Rez, we miss in-person conferences. Getting to see our customers face-to-face, the occasional morning rush to make the first session (after being out way too late the night before), and laughing about great memories are all great parts of our industry culture.
One day we will get back to in-person conferences, but until then we still need to meet and connect. In the past 12 months we have attended 8 Virtual Conferences.
Through them all we have begun to learn some tricks that help make the best out your investment in attending.
If you make a calendar link, you can send it to people you want to meet with and they will be able to book time with the open availability you have designated. It is a great timesaver, avoiding the back and forth of emailing available times between multiple parties.
Calendly offers an easy-to-use, free version to connect to your calendar.
Each show will have an agenda that often includes a block of free time between sessions.
In some ways, virtual conferences can be just as tiring as in person conferences. Scheduling time to take a mental and physical break is a really good idea! Being in front of your screen for long periods of time can be tough on your eyes.
Go for a small walk and get your body moving between sessions. This could also be a good time to connect with your team midday on how things are going.
Virtually, of course. Just like in-person conferences, we suggest you go to sessions with your key team members. You each may recall different pieces of the session and it helps to know you're going "together."
Make plans to catch up and discuss keynote sessions with your coworkers, or message them throughout about points you found interesting. Have your company chat open, be it slack, teams, zoom chat or skype. Talking in real-time is helpful to keep the dialogue as you would at in-person conferences.
It can also be great to reconvene with your team at the end of each day to review key meetings and takeaways.
Grab a cocktail/beer/wine and connect with others from the industry. It isn't the same as in person, but in some ways it can be better.
We have had lots of fun going to these and have made some great new connections (not to mention the cost savings!).
Here is a suggested pre-show checklist:
It can be hard to connect with someone when we can't see them. If you are comfortable and it is permitted, it is highly recommended to go on camera.
Keep water and your favorite caffeinated drinks nearby. Take moments to stretch. This will help keep you focused and energized.
This one goes for working from home in general. According to a study performed by psychological scientists at Northridge, Columbia and California State University, our clothing has an impact on our thoughts and our ability to think in an abstract manner. It affects not only how others perceive us, but how we perceive ourselves.
Likewise, according to a study published in the Human Resource Development Quarterly, “Respondents felt most authoritative, trustworthy, and competent when wearing formal business attire but friendliest when wearing casual or business casual attire. Significant two-way interactions were found between dress preference and mode of dress worn on self-perceptions of productivity, trustworthiness, creativity, and friendliness.”
Taking notes on paper will help you concentrate while the sessions are going. It seems obvious, but keeping you off your mouse and keyboard will help you focus and grab key points better.