While I certainly would prefer being in person at the 2021 SHRM Annual Conference and Expo, it’s just not possible for me this year. I’ll be sad I don’t get the chance to jump off the Stratosphere again, however, what an amazing opportunity virtual attendance provides. I can experience the conference in a whole different way!
We can agree that of the most significant drawbacks of virtual conferences is the lack of natural social situations. You aren’t in rooms with other attendees, shaking hands with speakers, sharing drinks with colleagues, or catching up over dinner out on the town (especially in Las Vegas)!
But virtual events can include networking opportunities too. Look for information about them in emails or social media marketing posts from conference organizers and your SHRM21 Influencers – if you aren’t receiving them ask! You don’t want to miss out on important announcements!
Join the Social Media Chatter
You can skim conference hashtags on Twitter to discover bits of insight and wisdom from people in other sessions at conferences you attend virtually. It’s a fun way to get more out of the conference than just the sessions you can make. It’s also helpful to share highlights from the sessions you’re in.
The hashtags to follow this year include #SHRM21 #SHRMNMTE
As a bonus, it’s a networking opportunity. Especially at an online conference, participating actively online lets you connect with other attendees to share your experiences and lessons.
I encourage you to share your ideas, ask questions and reshare others’ posts to engage with fellow attendees. You’ll probably leave these conversations with a few extra Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, and Twitter followers.
Engage in Live Events
Networking opportunities are a critical aspect of conferences, even more, important than speakers and educational sessions to some attendees. They can be harder to come by at virtual conferences but take advantage of them if they’re available.
Virtual networking events can be even better than in-person networking if you’re shy or introverted. You can be a fly on the wall more easily, so you can attend, observe, and get to know people without being quite as social or forward as you have to be at in-person events.
Consider engagement through:
- Virtual Happy Hours. Invite colleagues to bring their own cocktails or coffees and get social through a video chat app like Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams.
- Twitter Chats. These scheduled conversations on Twitter, organized around a hashtag, could be formal and educational, or casual and social. Follow the SHRM21 Influencers.
Look Up Particularly Engaged Attendees
Questions you ask or ideas you share in a conference session can make for great conversations after. At an in-person conference, that usually meant stopping someone as you walk out the door to thank them for their comment or offer insight in response to their question.
You have to do a little more legwork to follow up on those discussions at a virtual conference.
Pay attention to who’s asking questions and sharing insightful comments in a group chat or through social media. Look them up and connect on Twitter and LinkedIn after the conference. Spark a conversation by mentioning the session you were both in.
Follow Up With Email
Conference or session hosts often share their contact information in slides or other materials. Use it!
Follow up after a conference or session you enjoyed, thanking the speaker and let them know what you learned. At the very least, it’s kind to show your gratitude for their effort (often unpaid). At best, it can help you make a new connection with someone who’s well respected in your industry.
I am looking forward to so many sessions, to the online networking, and the chance to make more connections! I’ll “see” you all there! Find me and follow me!
Twitter - @HRRockstar1