Virtual events save time and money – but do they deliver actionable information and networking opportunities? These steps ensure they will.
It’s conference time for the ISP industry! Hoisting a mug with pals, rubbing elbows with tech gurus and absorbing the latest wisdom from dynamic educational sessions are often worth the time and expense of the trip.
But, this year is different. Like most industries, ISP associations and organizations are moving online to provide educational and networking opportunities, Overall, virtual events have increased 2,000% in April 2020 compared to April 2019 .
This is good news and can help keep the event and professional speaking industries afloat, but for attendees, the real question is – will you still benefit from attending an online event?
Let’s not kid ourselves – the experience will be different. Yet there’s so much to gain! Getting a heads-up on ideas and developments before competitors can be lucrative. Before you sign up – have a plan to prepare to eke every bit of value from your next online event.
Commit the Time
Do you have a back-log of projects? Management reports stacking up on your desk? Analyzing whether a new tower site will have enough ROI? These important tasks become distractions when the clock tells you it’s time for your event
When you decide to attend, commit to it. Block out the time, tell your staff that the hours of the event are “no contact” unless a speeding meteor is heading toward your ISP headquarters – this is your time to absorb knowledge.
Of course, if a crisis pops up (see meteor comment above), take care of it or have a trusted staffer step in for you if possible. The point is, when there’s an opportunity to hear about the latest developments in the industry – give yourself the best opportunity to learn.
Turn off notifications
Do you get distracted by the incessant beeps from texts or emails hitting your inbox? There’s a name for people like that — they’re called “Everybody”. Turn off notifications on your work and personal emails. And while you’re at it, turn down the ringer on your phone.
Don’t accept meetings
You may be inundated with meetings most days. but when it comes to the online event sessions you want to attend, don’t accept meetings during those time slots. Unless your dream angel investor is only available during the meeting time slot, this is a “no contact” time zone.
Choose Virtual Events That Respect Your Time
No matter how valuable the information is, events that stretch across multiple days are difficult to fit into your overloaded schedule.
Some virtual events break up sessions so you don’t have to attend on consecutive days to get the full value from the event.
The WISP Virtual Summit 2021: RELOADED takes place on 3 half-days on consecutive Wednesdays starting on March 17th. There are two additional days of content on the 24th and 31st. Industry experts will discuss relevant topics and it only requires you to block out a half day each week for 3 weeks.
For busy ISPs, this is a wonderful opportunity to learn without clogging up your weekly calendar. Attendance is free. Learn more about it here.
Engage with the Content
Read through the event syllabus so you are prepared. Have a tablet, notebook computer or a notepad and pen if they will help you remember the course details.
Ask questions. Most online event platforms have an option to post questions to ask during presentations. More sophisticated events offer a Q&A to close the session.
Network with Attendees
If you’re like most event-goers, the biggest reason you go is to network  with industry thought leaders and other ISPs. Even at virtual conferences, there are opportunities to meet new peers and learn from experts
There could be times that are set aside for event-goers to “mingle” and connect. At the WISP Virtual Summit event, breakout rooms offer ISPs time to get to know other attendees. The breakouts precede learning sessions and give participants the time to introduce themselves, learn a bit about each attendee and exchange information.
Swag and Final Thoughts
If a key conference motivation is to collect enough SWAG to fill several storage rooms, some virtual events send logoed, free items — including the Virtual WISP Summit event! The planners have 100 SWAG boxes that they will send out to 100 randomly selected ISPs. The only qualification is that you have to be registered. Register here – it’s free!
Plus, attendees have opportunities to win gift cards just for showing up and participating in the LIVE Q&As!
Even during these isolating times when it’s best to stay apart, you can still connect to peers and the latest industry wisdom. The WISP Virtual Summit event includes sessions about scaling to 1,000 to 10,000 or more subscribers, backhaul networking and climate-resilient networks. Register, then use these tips to get the most from the event!
- EventBrite; 2020; online: https://www.eventbrite.com/blog/online-events-live-experiences-now/
- Curtis Coulter; 2018; online: https://curtiscoulter.com/why-do-people-attend-conferences-5-key-reasons-for-attendees-and-event-organizers/
Thanks to Chris Montgomery for providing the featured image. You can find more of Chris’ work at unsplash.com.