Market research conferences are a perfect opportunity to gather, shake hands, and share meals with fellow researchers. But as the coronavirus pandemic drags on, public health experts continue to encourage social distancing. So, like many others, conference organizers have had to adapt. In lieu of large, indoor, in-person events, they are now hosting virtual conferences.
Virtual conferences are not merely “a series of webinars”[i]. They boast the “same features of an in-person event”[ii], just online. Still, the format is new and foreign to many participants. Thus, here are some tips on how to get the most out of your virtual experience!
1.) Actively engage in sessions: Don’t just log into sessions with leading experts, actually watch and participate! Minimize distractions on your computer by closing your emails, exiting tabs, disabling news alerts etc. Also, seize the opportunity to interact with speakers via text chat windows[ii], dedicated Q&A sessions, and drop-in office hours[iv], depending on the conference. We are especially looking forward to the Women in Research session at Quirks Virtual "Mind the Gap: Learning How to Uncover Biased Insights".
2.) Tour the exhibit hall: One advantage of virtual conferences is the exhibit hall/expo can be open 24 hours a day. So choose the time that works best for you, when you can leisurely “browse exhibitor offerings” and attentively “watch product and service videos”[v]. If a particular exhibitor piques your interest, download their information and store it in a folder on your computer for easy access later.
3.) Schedule private meetings: After watching a session or touring the exhibit hall, you may have lingering questions about a company or product. Get your answers by meeting privately with a company representative. Also referred to as “member-to-member meet-ups” or “one-on-one video chats”[vi], private meetings[vii] are now a common feature in virtual conferences.
4.) Make Time for Networking: For many, it can be tempting to simply log out at 5:00pm. Maybe you have to cook dinner or home school the kids. But to get the most out of virtual conferences (including prospective partners, clients, and mentors), don’t miss networking opportunities! Join breakout sessions[viii] and video roundtables[ix]. Or grab a drink and a seat at virtual cocktail tables[x] or networking parties[xi]. To break the ice, prepare a “business card video”[xii] introducing yourself and your organization.
5.) Compete in games and challenges. Not only is this a fun way to learn, you might also win something[xiii]! At the recent IIeX Forward event[xiv], for example, Op4G employee Rafael Gonzalez won the social media mug challenge. He generously donated his $500 prize to the Cornell Scott Hill Health Center[xv], noting that health workers “have been heroes before and during the pandemic…serving those that can't afford healthcare they need so desperately”.
In the coming months, Op4G will attend at least 3 virtual conferences: IIeX North America (September 9-11), HubSpot INBOUND (September 22-23), and TMRE (October 5 – 7).[x] We will also be exhibiting at Quirks Virtual (July 14-16) and sponsoring The Research Club July 15th. We really hope to “see” you there!