Microsoft Ignite sold out very quickly this year, leaving some of us attending virtually. While regrouping and coming up with a virtual game plan, we started asking ourselves, ‘What are the pros of attending a conference virtually? Is this the new way to conference? Can we still interact with our peeps?’
That’s why we sat down to speak with Christian Buckley on the pros of attending conferences virtually. CEO of CollabTalk, Christian has attended his fare share of conferences. His first conference was in ’94/’95 and he began speaking at conferences in ’98/’99. Christian has presented at over 250 conferences in the last eight years and has made it a point to attend every SharePoint conference. He is an amazing contact and resource to help enlighten us on the pros and cons of attending a conference virtually, but how to rock it if we do! This is what he had to say:
Attending a conference in person
What is it like to attend a conference in person? “It’s hectic! Be ready to walk at the larger conferences. There is always the questions behind where you should be in a conference, and the key is to be strategic. Make your decisions based on your schedule and room location. What is the absolute must? Attend the Keynote. The Keynote sets the theme of the conference and can influence other sessions you attend.”
PRO: Networking on the Expo Floor
“75% of the time, you can find product team members and networking contacts on the Expo Floor. Take this opportunity share your brand and make new contacts. It isn’t about have a great product, it’s about telling people about it, participating, and publicizing your abilities. The Expo Floor is the perfect place to promote and build up your presence. If in need of an example, these companies do it well: AvePoint, Rencore, Record Point, Once Place Solutions, and Minecast.”
CON: Long Hours
“No matter how much you prepare or how many conferences you attend, you will always be hit with the long hours of attending a conference. Between the jet lag, demanding schedule, and hours of walking/standing – attending a conference in person will always make for a crazy, busy time.”
“While virtual conferencing will never take the place of being able to network on the Expo floor, it’s definitely becoming a more common practice. We are seeing more livestream presentations, real-time chat tools, etc. SP24.com, a 24-hour conference, did a great job of this with their latest.”
CON: Missing out on networking
PROS: More visibility and flexibility
“Imagine getting all the same great information at a conference from the comfort of your home. Nothing beats sitting in your pajamas, eating a big sandwich, drinking an ice-cold Coke, and watching the conference from the comfort of your couch! You don’t have to worry about not having a seat or deciding between sessions. When attending conferences virtually, you can skim through events, easily follow links while the speaker is talking, and if the session wasn’t what you had hoped – you can exit and quickly join another.
Watching online enables you to monitor all aspects of the event in real time, especially on social media. Attending virtually enables you to instantly know what is trending online and gives you visibility into a broader range of conversations.
If attending virtually, is it possible to still have an impact on your customers, clients, and attendees? YES!”
2 important things when attending virtually:
1. Have a war room
“Post quotes to leverage presenters, post quotes to show your company is on-site, answer questions on social media, and connect to attendees and team members onsite.”
2. Run a marketing campaign
“Create a marketing campaign for before, during, and after the conference. This is your opportunity to share your brand and highlight your team that is attending. It’s not just about having a great product, it’s about telling people about it, participating, and publicizing your abilities.”
Take part in Ignite 2018 from Anywhere
Virtual Tips for Ignite '18:
“Microsoft typically makes content available within 24 hours, however, this year content will be live-streamed which is NEW. Find what you like, and don’t be afraid to switch to another session. Put your wish list together and watch what you want to watch.”
When you are engaging on social media, don’t forget to follow the rule of thirds:
Buy our product, look at our product, become our client, etc.
2. Subject matter/expertise
Here are the problems that people have, we know this, these are the the things to think about, etc.
Here’s our team, company culture, behind teh scenes, etc.