By: Susan DeMatei and Nathan Chambers
Chances are you’ve attended a virtual conference by now. Perhaps it was your first, or maybe you’re a seasoned pro. In either case, thanks to the ongoing pandemic and the reoccurring “Stay at Home” directives, virtual events are likely going to be here for a while. And why not?
PGI.com reports that through video meetings, businesses can reduce travel costs by 30%. According to the Bizzabo Post Covid-19 Event Outlook Report, an overwhelming 93% of organizers plan to invest in virtual events moving forward.
Unlike in-person conferences, you have to work a bit harder to get the most value out of this time when they’re online. Here are some tips for things you can do after the conference to maximize your efforts.
Contact People You Met
68% of B2B marketers use in-person events for lead generation initiatives. This data point is especially noteworthy considering that AdStage reports 73% of marketers prioritized lead quality. Meaning, one of the vital elements of any conference is the chance to connect, make new friends, engage with old colleagues, and form new relationships that will help you both personally and professionally.
Networking is more natural in person. And typically, when you go to a conference, you leave with a stack of business cards that sit on your desk as a reminder to follow up on these connections.
But, this printed reminder doesn’t exist with a virtual conference. It is up to you to take notes and forward contact information to continue the conversation.
Hopefully, you kept a list of people you spoke to or exchanged chat messages with during the conference. Maybe you wanted to ask the keynote speaker a question, but you didn’t have time, or your kid’s virtual education crashed your network the morning of the breakout session you wanted to attend!
Either way, make a list of people with whom you would have connected and reach out to them.
Whova, the popular event software, has some suggestions to stay in front of your expanded network while the event is still fresh in everyone’s mind. They suggest doing the following in the first three days after an event:
• Email your event contacts with thank-yous or requests for further conversation.
• Search social media platforms for mention of the event or hashtags; connect to individuals talking about the event.
• Cross-reference your new connections on LinkedIn referencing the event.
• Double (and triple) check your notes from the event to make sure you organize and attend any post-event meetings/calls you planned during the event.
Send them a note and set up some time to connect, whether over the phone, a socially distanced coffee, or even with Facetime. If you wait and let ideas and memories fade, you’ll be cheating yourself out of a great opportunity.
Grow Your Database
How often do you look up a business contact only to find out they’ve changed positions or are at a new company? As you reflect and review your day(s) at the conference, you undoubtedly made some new contacts and reconnected with past ones. Take a few minutes to update both your personal as well as professional mailing list.
Make sure you’ve got updated phone numbers, email addresses, and current employers. When doing this, make sure to update contacts on your phone.
If you add or update people to your company database, make sure to use a tagging system or segmentation note. This can be something as simple as “XYZ Trade Show Mar_21”. As we all know, segmentation is a huge asset when it comes to recontacting someone. Having information could be critical if you want to send a follow-up email to people you met during a breakout session or event organizers. Spending an hour detailing notes of conversations and contact information will pay dividends for you in the future.
Maybe you went as a group or were the only one who had the privilege of attending the conference. Chances are, there are others in your organization that could benefit from what you heard.
Make sure to review your notes and any PDF’s distributed as part of the conference. Set some time to meet with your team and your supervisor to go over the highlights. Discuss new ideas that you want to try, new strategies on an old problem, or the conference in general. Also, give your team the floor to ask questions and probe what you heard.
In Case You Missed It
Bizzabo reports that over half (54%) of virtual event registrants convert to virtual attendees. Even when we attend, we can’t be in three breakout rooms at the same time. So almost all conferences supply links to the videos of the sessions.
Check the conference website to see if the sessions you missed are now available for viewing. Recordings of new portions of the conference originally live-streamed may have been added, giving you multiple opportunities to review what went on at the conference. Don’t forget to share the links with your team so they can view the information.
Now that you’ve attended the conference, updated your mailing list with new contacts and old friends, met with your team and shared your learnings, and watched the videos of sessions missed and discussions you wanted to remember, there’s just one more thing left to do. Offer feedback via social media or thank the organization, and look for opportunities with future conferences.
If the conference sent out a survey to attendees, take it and give honest feedback and suggestions. Virtual meetings are relatively new for everyone, so any insight or tips we’re sure would go a long way. Also, consider getting involved. If you or someone on your team wants to plan next year’s event, reach out to the organizers.
As with most things, the more engaged and thoughtful you are before, during, and after the conference, the more rewards you will see.
Susan DeMatei is the President and Nathan Chambers is an Account Director at WineGlass Marketing, a full-service direct marketing firm working within the wine industry in Napa, California. www.wineglassmarketing.com