The Value of a Virtual Event

Long after we enter a “new normal,” we will remember 2020 as the year life went virtual. Remote learning, Zoom-based board meetings and happy hours, behind-the-scenes tours of museums and zoos, virtual marathons and face-to-face conferences have moved online for health and safety reasons.

Virtual events offer participants opportunities to connect with other professionals and advance their career skills and industry knowledge during these unprecedented COVID-19 times. Here’s what you need to know about virtual events to make the most of your experience.

What is a virtual event?

Simply put, a virtual event is an organized event that takes place online instead of in-person. Activities in a virtual conference may take place in real time (synchronously), on demand (asynchronously), or some combination of the two.

Virtual events can offer registrants single or multi-day sessions, not just a single webinar or webcast. These virtual events may include keynote presentations, training and education workshops, discussion areas, social networking opportunities, exhibit areas for vendors, and much more.

Virtual events are not second-best. Done well, virtual events and conferences are valuable opportunities to bring people together, build professional networks, engage in learning and professional development, and create lasting social connections.

In fact, virtual events can offer many benefits, even over in-person events. They can:

  • Bring people together to inspire and educate, just as in-person events
  • Result in more connections with a broader audience
  • Preserve productivity with flexible schedules and on-demand programming
  • Give people a sense of professional normalcy during a time of upheaval

Virtual Exhibit Hall

Many virtual events, including conferences and trade shows, incorporate a virtual exhibit hall aspect. This allows participants to visit with vendors virtually and experience the exhibit hall in a digital format.

Virtual exhibit halls can give participants a range of experiences. These include the chance to connect with industry professionals on related services, product demos, and downloadable resources. Vendors can also engage attendees in playing digital games (like scavenger hunts or other contests) as well as other fun events to build a sense of community. Because virtual trade shows are not restricted by available space (as in a convention center or hotel), they can sometimes run longer and encourage higher participation levels.

A virtual trade show can give participants additional opportunities over live events. For instance, C suite executives and senior management might be able to participate in ways they would not in a live event because of schedule flexibility and the availability of digital resources. 

Virtual networking events

In a time when so many professionals are working remotely (and perhaps feeling the pinch of isolation), virtual networking sessions are a terrific way to continue to build the all-important network and stay connected to your profession.

Virtual networking events can focus on a specialty or can be more broadly for all event participants. As you build your network, look for potential connections who may be working for employers or organizations you are interested in or who have developed expertise where you have interest.  Be sure to adhere to all the best practices of networking whether or not you’re participating virtually. Reach out individually via email or LinkedIn after and thank new connections if they spend time with you.

Virtual events may have taken the place of in-person events for the time being, but they offer real value to participants. Be proud to include one in your schedule this fall; you will reap the benefits of connection, education, and professional development to keep you inspired and advancing.

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 to join or to register and follow us at #DALLASHR, #HRSWC.