Connecting Virtually: Five Tips for Making the Most of Virtual Events

By Paul Shaffer, Executive Vice President, Landi Renzo USA

Like many of you, I look forward to Work Truck Week each year. It’s exciting to see the latest tech, check out the newest trucks and connect with other FordPros.

Although I understand the reason why Work Truck Week 2021 (WTW21) is taking place online only, there’s still some disappointment about not meeting in person.

I caught up with my friends at The Carbon Agency, a creative and digital marketing agency that specializes in multimedia communications and event management. Knowing that WTW21 will be just one of many tradeshows and conferences that I’ll be attending online this year, they gave me advice on making the most of virtual events.

  1. Schedule the event in your calendar

Reserve the time in your calendar so that your colleagues don’t schedule meetings during the event. It’s tempting to multi-task but you’ll absorb more information and get to know the participants if you give the event your full attention.

Check the agenda and make certain to sign up for specific presentations, demos or virtual tours that may require advanced registration.

  • 360-degree tours and virtual test drives

Virtual reality and other tech advancements offer an interactive experience for 360-degree tours and virtual test drives. Be sure to take advantage of live demos and other tours to experience new products and technology.

  • Virtual networking

Many conferences will offer mobile apps and opportunities to connect with other attendees. The tradeshow may dedicate networking time with virtual happy hours and coffee breaks. Some events may even link attendees with similar interests, set up group chats and breakout sessions.

Consider proactively reaching out to colleagues via email or LinkedIn to schedule time to catch up on the phone or a video meeting after the event.

  • Fun activities

The most successful conferences include fun activities to make the event memorable and create camaraderie, including:

  • Leaderboard challenges, allowing participants to earn points by attending keynotes and training sessions

While most of us want to maintain a serious, professional appearance, sharing a photo wearing an event hat or shirt shows your support of trade organizations. If you post an update on social media using the event hashtag, your network will know that you stay on top of the latest industry trends.

This is my own tip. One of the most effective ways to stay in touch with colleagues is to check LinkedIn at least once a week. I log onto LinkedIn a couple of times a week for about 15 minutes to “like” and comment on updates from friends and industry posts. When Landi Renzo has news, I share on LinkedIn. The comments and engagement from FordPros and other colleagues let me know the popularity of our products and the interest in our news and technologies.

By considering these tips for connecting virtually, you can make the most of virtual events. I look forward to connecting with you during WTW21 or another conference this year!