You're tired. We're tired. We're all tired. When it comes to virtual meet ups and digital conferences, fatigue has settled in and it's here to stay. It seems like countless blogs have tried to address the pressing question, "How do I prevent virtual conference fatigue?." Lucky for you, this one has the answer - simply, you can't. However, there are several things you can do to increase energy and get the most out of your next digital meet up.
Before you sign yourself or your team up for an event, it's natural (and wise) to ask, What will be the return on investment here? With in-person events on hold, "sending" team members to all-day virtual events can seem counterproductive to efficiency. But, we've found quite the opposite.
1. Define Your Goals
Before the tips, we need to get one thing clear - the why. Why are you attending these industry events? To make the most of your time, you need to get in alignment about what your personal and organizational goals are for this particular conference. Whether it's learning, networking, sales or recruitment - make a mental note of your goals and stay focused.
Knowing your goal can bring clarity to your actions, amplify your marketing message and increase your ROI. It can determine whether or not you participate in the virtual trade show or take the speaking position.
If you're being honest, you may be coming to one of these conferences with multiple goals. You may have multiple agendas and you probably have a team of people that are attending too. Attack the event as a team - divide and conquer. In this way, you also get full coverage of the event.
BONUS TIP: Break outside your industry. If you're an insights professional and your goal is to gain a prospect or get a sale, stop going only to market research conferences - where all your peers are attending. If you're looking for the end client, go to the toy conference and be the only insights professional there who can be the expert.
To know your goal is to know your most ideal client. If you define sales as your goal, who are you looking for? Define their job title, company, etc to bring clarity to your strategy. We call this the unicorn. Mythical and magical, the unicorn is rare and attention-grabbing. Who is your unicorn? Even if it seems unlikely, who or what company are you hoping to connect with at the event? With that person in mind, craft your strategy and marketing message around them.
Want to find your unicorn? Our free Ideal Client Persona Template can help you build-from-scratch or update your buyer personas. Download this free template now!
2. Bring the Energy
The energy you put in is the energy you get out. If you've been attending industry events for any given amount of time, you understand the buzz of energy that surround the event. Whether it's the espresso or the new learnings, the buzz is what sustains you through the long days.
So how do you bring that same energy to virtual events? Consider your in-person conference routine. Do you wake up early? Fit a workout in before the first session? Stay up until 2am at the networking events? To keep the same energy, follow a similar routine (okay, maybe minus the 2am thing).
Research has consistently shown that routines can play an important role in productivity. From breakfast to movement - think through your typical routine and mirror that. If you miss having in-person conversations, be sure to take full advantage of the virtual networking events and breakout sessions.
When you're physically at an event, most of the time, it gets your undivided attention. With virtual events, distractions abound. Kids schooling from home, the grouchy dog that pipes up at the most inconvenient times ("I literally just took you out!"), the spouse who still hasn't dressed for the day - working from home can create a chaotic environment. Even if you are back at the office, you aren't exempt. Being at your desk allows you to constantly check emails, answer the phone and help a coworker with a problem. Research shows that multitasking can decrease productivity by 40%. So stay focused.
3. Do Your Homework Beforehand
Conference work never starts day-of and with all the event information published online months ahead, there is much to be done in preparation. Speaker, sponsor and sometimes attendee names are typically published on the site as public knowledge. Print out the lists and make it a point to connect with people ahead of time on LinkedIn.
The names and affiliated companies can be organized in an excel document along with their social media handles and LinkedIn URL (we call this a Social Media Cheat Sheet).
BONUS TIP: Create a Twitter list of the people on your Cheat Sheet. This will bring each person's tweets into a single stream for easy interaction.
4. Be Active on Social
Connections at in-person conferences are given and at times, forced. Between sitting next to someone in a session or talking on the tradeshow floor, you will inevitably connect with someone. Virtual events - not so much. It's actually easy to attend some of these events and go unnoticed.
One way to stand out and engage in the bigger conversation is to participate in social media activity.
If you came to the event to be social, well, be social!
With your handy Social Media Cheat Sheet in hand, post notable moments from the conference including pull quotes from speakers and shoutouts to other attendees. Multiple platforms can be utilized to your advantage to engage and gain a presence at the event.
Known for being the most timely social platform, Twitter is perfect for sharing real-time takeaways from sessions and speakers. In addition to tweeting and tagging, there are several tools within Twitter that make it easy for you to stay in the conversation surrounding the event.
Twitter Lists allow you to group together accounts to follow them in a single feed. After compiling your list of speakers, sponsors and attendees, add them to a Twitter List so you can keep tabs on their Twitter activity during the conference. This makes it easy to retweet, favorite and respond to their posts.
Most modern events direct attendees to use a single hashtag. Why? It unifies conversation. A hashtag strings together posts with a virtual thread. For example, GreenBook encourages attendees to use #IIeX on their posts during the event. They even embed a social feed onto the event's website!
Twitter also allows you to follow and search hashtags - sorting posts by top, recent, people, photos and videos. Using the search feature on the platform, search the event hashtag and browse the lists for content to interact with.
Want to share your expertise or information about your virtual trade show booth? Post it to LinkedIn or LinkedIn Stories! If you're looking to establish yourself as a thought leader, share key learnings on LinkedIn throughout the event.
At the conclusion of the event, use LinkedIn articles to elaborate - writing a mini blog about your experience.
From Zoom to Bizzabo - all virtual connection platforms have a built in chat feature. It's typical for a moderator to ask attendees to drop questions in the chat for Q + A. Participate in the chat by following the moderator's prompts and asking thought-provoking questions yourself.
Before you attend your next digital meet up - PAUSE. Get clear on your goal, bring the energy, do your homework and be social!
Want more? Hear Ashley and Priscilla answer the question, "How do I avoid virtual conference fatigue?" in this Dear Priscilla podcast episode.