While nothing can totally replace the experience of gathering IRL, virtual conferences are still an amazing way to share, discover, and connect with your community.
That’s why we love these tips for making the most of any virtual conference, shared with us by Angela Reyna, Senior Marketing Manager at Kentik, one of NANOG’s sponsoring partners.
Scroll on to read Angela’s expert insights, and be sure to check out the NANOG 79 Virtual Meeting agenda + register in advance if you haven’t already!
Allocate uninterrupted time
Allocating the necessary time is key to making sure you get the most out of a virtual conference. Even if you can’t attend the entire event, make sure to block out time on your calendar for the sessions you don’t want to miss.
Prepare for camera-on
Most virtual conferences are one-way live streams these days, which means you can attend from the comfort of your sweatpants. However, it’s best to prepare to have the camera on for networking sessions or happy hours. Putting a face to a name goes a long way in creating lasting connections.
Just as you would for an in-person conference, make sure to check out the agenda ahead of time and plan out your day. Register in advance, and if possible, log in early and familiarize yourself with the conference schedule and platform.
Maximize comforts and minimize distractions
In lieu of packing a good pair of walking shoes for big conference halls, make sure you’re dressed for comfort. If you want to stay focused during a keynote or other important session, fight the temptation to multitask by turning off your keyboard or mouse. It’s also important to take any breaks provided so you can get up, stretch, and come back feeling refreshed.
Let your goals be your guide
Conferences are a chance to stay in tune with the industry, network with peers, and gain a wealth of knowledge in a condensed format. It’s also a place to reconnect with old friends and discover new technologies. Jot down your goals for the conference before it goes live, and be sure to keep them in sight so you don’t lose track.
Prepare for any format and keep expectations at bay
After attending a handful of virtual conferences, I’ve learned that organizations really are doing their best to transition from an in-person to a virtual format, while working hard to deliver valuable, relevant content to their communities. There’s no perfect formula or platform, so it’s best to keep an open mind as you head in.
Engage in Slack channels or other live chats
The ability to engage in lively discussions during a keynote or session is a huge advantage of virtual events. Don’t be afraid to join the conversation!
Embrace the awkward moments
As we all know by now, virtual events can have their share of technical mishaps and unintended background noise. Make sure you know how to locate the mute button, and don’t sweat it.
We’re all longing for more connected times with less distance. For now, the best thing we can do is be present, and make the most of these virtual opportunities.
Network, connect, and take the next step
Power through to the happy hours and networking breaks; it’s worth your time! This is your chance to go beyond the typical coffee-line conversation by connecting with someone 1:1 via chat, or directly on LinkedIn. Be sure to stay in touch until the next time you can (fingers crossed) meet in person!