Capitalize on conference networking even when you aren’t face-to-face with other conference attendees
Tips for What to Do Before, During, and After the Conference
Meeting other professionals at a conference who do what you do on a daily basis has always been a key benefit to attending an in-person conference or event. You don’t have to lose that benefit just because you aren’t going to be at the event live. Follow these tips to increase your virtual networking IQ. These are tailored to URMIA’s 2023 Annual Conference, but the concepts can be applied to any virtual conference you are attending.
Make a game plan
Undoubtedly, attending a conference from your desk means you will likely get distracted at least once during the day with emails and your routine work. Review the conference schedule ahead of time and flag in the conference app those sessions that interest you the most and make every effort to attend them (or at least view the on-demand recording the same day).
Share on social media that you’re attending the conference
Doing this attracts peers who may also be participating. Encourage others to comment on sessions they attended. A conversation may bubble up from this simple post. Need a graphic? URMIA provides a graphic you can use to share that you’re attending.
Create some goals for your conference attendance
Maybe it’s “introduce yourself to five new people” or “trade emails with ten attendees.” Make a list as you will be more apt to follow up on them and make them happen.
Populate your profile in the conference app
Highlight your unique experiences, interests, and skills. Include your social media accounts to make you easy to find outside of the conference, too.
Check the attendee list on the app
Find people who have similar interests and just reach out and say hi to start the conversation. Have a go-to icebreaker question ready to go before the conference starts – where are you located now? are you a mountain or beach person?
Make sure you log in early
Check your webcam and internet connection, put your phone on silent, and grab something to drink. Have pen and paper handy to take notes.
Use the chat function – don’t be shy!
Participate in the discussions. Ask questions. Make a note of people who seem to be asking similar questions that you have and/or those that brought up a topic you want to explore further and send them a note through the conference app after the session and ask if you can set up a time to dive into the topic a bit further one-on-one.
Engage in real-time messaging during presentations
Ask new connections what they think of a particular idea when it is presented during the session. Unlike in-person events, private conversations during presentations are acceptable, even expected to some degree!
It may be something as simple as a 15-minute wrap-up session at the end of each day of presentations which can give you an opportunity to dig a little further into a topic. Maybe it’s learning something totally unrelated to risk management like how to certify your backyard as a national wildlife habitat. Take a brain break!
Share an interesting/related article with others
Have an article you just read about the topic being discussed? Share it in the chat with other attendees. You might find someone else who just read the same thing.
Within 3 days of the end of the event:
- Email those you made contact with and request further conversation. Remind them how you met.
- Find your connections on LinkedIn and, well, connect.
- Share that you’re interested in keeping in touch in the future. Relationships do require constant nurturing, but conversations don’t have to be long. Even a quick congrats on milestones counts as keeping in touch.