Making connections face to face is integral to business and professional development. Everyone knows it. It is accepted wisdom, whether it is actually true or not. Just saying. And the good news is that we are blessed with an abundance of trade shows and conferences that bring people together. Well, that was the position until Covid-19 came along and stopped events, travel and crossing borders.
But wait, if we cannot hold in-person events, how can we develop business?
Some people have resisted virtual events to a point that makes no sense at all. Virtual events are needed for businesses to function. It’s time to accept that and move on.
Yes, it is a different experience and it’s obvious that a virtual meeting is never going to be the same as an in-person one. And, in some instances, thank goodness for that as not every in-person event is a joy. But the point is that virtual is different and should be celebrated as such.
Virtual events come in all varieties. You can have virtual conferences, product launches, networking sessions, buyer meets, focus groups, awards ceremonies and more besides.
With that amount of choice you can carry on business as you would with in-person events. Having the right mindset is an important factor. If you have an attitude that a virtual event is ‘inferior’ then even the very best produced virtual event is unlikely to change your opinion.
I think it’s time to let go of preconceptions and work on getting the most out of virtual events. And that means treating them with the same level of professionalism as you would when participating at an in-person one.
Delegate, sponsor, speaker, exhibitor and client expectations in the virtual world are increasing. It’s a sure sign that everyone needs to raise their game if they are to be successful in this environment and drive business.
Playing your part
What you can do to play your part is to take these events seriously.
If you are an exhibitor you need to be ready for calls and video chats.
If you are a delegate and have agreed to go to a 1-2-1 buyer meeting then you need to show up.
If you are a sponsor, are you working with the organiser to bring something new that hasn’t been seen yet elsewhere? Have you framed your offering specifically for the event or have you taken the easy route by directing people to your website (yawn) in response to the virtual opportunity? What a waste that would be.
If you are a speaker (presenter), you should be familiar with how you look and sound and as importantly how the technology works (long before you go live). You would rehearse for an in-person gig and the same has to follow for getting ready for virtual speaking.
It will take all of us working together to take virtual events to the next level and we can do it. Indeed a number of organisations are well advanced in their virtual plans for 2021.
The other thing about virtual events is that they enable you to increase your reach. You can discover new people that want your product. How good for sales is that?
And just in case, you are a bit concerned about your sustainability creds, don’t worry as virtual events enable you to make a massive impact there as well.
One last thing to think about is the way in which virtual awards can help bring your organisation together after a very bumpy 2020. You can recognise people for their hard work and let them know that they are valued.
Virtual events are here to stay and the good news is that they help drive business. All you need to do is decide how you are going to contribute to their success.