Feedback from virtual conference attendees over the past year has shown that the primary concern is the lack of networking opportunities. Spontaneous hallway conversations and informal chats at the coffee stand are difficult to recreate in the virtual environment.
Conference organizers have been fine tuning their events to help mitigate this lack of communication in a number of ways.
- The Association for Talent Development offered a number of options at their virtual event, including: a “Share Your Top Takeaway” networking session to encourage attendees to informally share their experiences; happy-hour group chats and roundtables; and the ability to record short introduction videos for others to view in the networking lounge. They also prepared a virtual networking guide in PDF format with detailed instructions for participants;
- The Coalition on Adult Basic Education held its 2021 National Virtual Conference with a virtual bingo game and trivia night, a happy hour, and a digital literacy and technology discussion. They also provided an ongoing public discussion forum where attendees can ask questions and comments, post photos, and informally chat with one another;
- NAPCP – Advancing Commercial Card & Payment Practices Worldwide will be offering several live facilitated discussions in the networking lounge that people can call into or participate in via a discussion board;
- The North Carolina Museums Council promoted informal interactions amongst their attendees with several networking breaks that took place over the three-day event. Participants were invited to introduce their pets on camera, share their best at-home work hacks, and do desk yoga and meditations; and,
- The Society for Clinical Data Management had attendees answer a few questions about their interests when registering for their virtual conference. They were then automatically matched with other participants so they could chat, share schedules, and interact as they chose. Participants were also able to network with conference co-chairs and speakers throughout the event.