10 Tips for Getting Real Value from Attending a Virtual Event

As our “new normal” continues to evolve, more and more personal and professional experiences are going virtual. A virtual event can provide high-quality education, professional development and networking, but sitting in front of your computer or device is a very different experience from walking an exhibit hall or attending a presentation with hundreds of others in your industry. How can you make the most of attending a virtual event or conference?

In advance of The HRSouthwest Conference’s October 2020 virtual event, here are ten tips to maximize the value of your experience as an attendee.

#1: Make a commitment.

First, treat attendance at a virtual conference the same as an in-person experience. Block the time on your calendar and prioritize being truly present to engage with the sessions, presenters and networking opportunities. You may still be able to keep up with your workload and other commitments because you won’t be traveling for the conference but do set aside the time to fully focus on live and on-demand programs.

#2: Minimize multitasking and distractions. 

When you’re in front of a computer rather than in a convention center, it can be easy to be distracted. Resist the urge to multitask. Turn off or snooze notifications to cut down on interruptions and give the event your full attention.

#3: Attend live events.

Some content may be offered in both synchronous (live) and on-demand formats. Whenever possible, attend live events. Doing so can give you an opportunity to interact with presenters and attendees, ask questions and hear what’s on others’ minds.

#4: Watch again to learn more.

When you’re attending a live event, you might frantically take notes to keep up with the speaker(s). A virtual event can help reduce some of the frenzy when you can replay sessions. You might be able to go deeper with the subject matter and actually learn more.

#5: Attend everything on your wish list.

Have you ever had two conference you wanted to attend, and they were happening at the same time? Did you sacrifice your professional development goals because you had to choose just one?  A virtual conference allows you to “attend” both of your favorite events! With sessions on demand, you should be able to attend everything on your wish list and satisfy your goals. .

#6: “Talk” during presentations.

At an in-person event, attendees can ask questions of the presenters and talk with others in the room. During a virtual event, they can use the chat function to interact with presenters and other attendees to connect as well as extend the learning experience. This can enhance your event takeaways.

#7: Network in real-time.

Be sure to invest the time to make new connections with presenters and other attendees during the virtual conference. These connections can be forged informally through chat and Q&A sessions or at organized networking as part of the conference. As with any networking efforts, look for ways to build your network to enhance your knowledge, explore mutual professional interests and advance your career in the future. When some normalcy returns in the future, you can already have a strong foundation for an in-person conference meetup with your new connections.

#8: Visit the exhibit hall.

Set aside time to visit the digital exhibit hall to learn more about the vendors attending and the products and services they offer.

#9: Connect with vendors and go deep.  

A virtual exhibit hall allows you to easily gather downloadable material which you can share with colleagues, schedule a 1:1 meeting with a new or current solution provider  sit in on a presentation, zot get answers to specific questions quickly using the chat function. At the end of the event, gather your details about each exhibitor and share with your organization.  A virtual exhibit hall will reduces legwork and makes research and purchase decisions easier.

#10: Attend from anywhere.

The benefit of any kind of virtual event is you can attend from anywhere. While still prioritizing focus and engagement, you can attend in your comfy clothes, from your back porch or lake house, or anywhere else that suits you (and has a high-speed Internet connection).

DallasHR is the third largest SHRM affiliate chapter in the nation. With more than 2,300 engaged HR professionals, the Chapter has been Advancing the Value of HR since 1939 through cutting-edge education, fun networking events and opportunities to share best practices with others in the field of HR. The Chapter powers The HRSouthwest Conference, one of the largest regional HR events in the U.S. hosting more than 2,400 attendees in Fort Worth annually. DallasHR events are held in both Dallas and Collin Counties. Visit us at dallashr.org to join or hrsouthwest.com to register and follow us at #DALLASHR, #HRSWC.