Menu Close

Attending a conference virtually with Christian Buckley

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?’
Christian Buckley speaking at a conference

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.”

Working the Expo floor? Read our Sharpie tips to help with the long hours. 
Sharpies at Inspire '18

Virtual Conferencing

“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., a 24-hour conference, did a great job of this with their latest.”

CON: Missing out on networking

“Attending virtually means that you miss out on the social element of conferences. You won’t meet people as easily, it’s harder to make those connections, you can’t attend the after parties, and of course, you miss out on the expo floor.”

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

Sharpie war room at Inspire '18

“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.”

Learn about 3Sharp’s top 5 pre-conference sales strategy tips.

Take part in Ignite 2018 from Anywhere

Can't attend Ignite in person? Click here to join the live stream on September 24.

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:

1. Corporate/promotion

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. 

3. Personal

Here’s our team, company culture, behind teh scenes, etc. 

Christian Buckley

Christian Buckley is an independent researcher, author, and entrepreneur providing fractional-CMO and business strategy services to tech companies around the world through his company, CollabTalk LLC. He also serves as the CMO for AI/VR/blockchain startup, He organizes the local SharePoint Saturday and Blockchain Saturday events among others, and is a Microsoft Regional Director and MVP.

Born and raised in the San Francisco East Bay, Christian has worked hard to build a reputation as an award-winning marketer in the Microsoft ISV community as a CMO and technology evangelist, was part of the team that launched Office 365 at Microsoft, and helped launch a similar hosted collaboration platform for E2open back in 2001.