IT pros have been consuming content and successfully connecting online for more than two decades; however, this pandemic for sure made this channel the only option for many to connect on. Many months later, we all know it is a viable solution, as many businesses and online conferences have thrived. We expect tech professionals will continue to attend virtual events long after we return to face-to-face meetings. However, the rules of engagement during virtual events are different and require a nuanced way of connecting with others. As an event sponsor, here are a few tips for allocating your personnel better and adjusting their focus to make the most of the opportunity.
Monitor and participate in session chats for a goldmine of information.
During the event, deploy your team to various sessions to listen in and have them participate in/seed chat threads and break out room discussions. Pay attention to who is asking the questions and where and when those conversations take place. And do not be afraid to lead the charge. If there is specific information you are trying to source from a specific group of people, what better place to ask questions than in a discussion group or in a group chat on that topic?
Use the information gleaned in those chats in follow-up.
What challenge or expertise did this person express in the chats? Ask more about it. What was the most interesting perspective they shared? Let them know. In addition to direct conversations, you may have other data sources to supplement your outreach. What content or demos has this person consumed within your booth, or did this person engage directly with other members of your team? If you know this going into a follow-up conversation, your dialogue will be authentic and specific. It takes more work, but this is THE most valuable time to invest more effort in the interested connections you have cultivated.
Make a warm hand-off.
“You shared such an interesting perspective on (Topic X), I thought that you and my colleague might enjoy continuing the conversation…” That is a much more natural way to loop in a salesperson, instead of tossing them a lead to cold call.
You shared an experience—use it.
Any event will have several attendees who did not interact directly with your team or booth. In fact, that will be the vast majority of those you are able to follow up with. Your outreach to those ITDMs cannot be as directly personal, but you can still do better than “hope you enjoyed the event.” Those virtual keynotes and sessions your team attended, bring up one striking insight or a quote from your favorite presenter.
Remember, a shared experience is the foundation for a more valuable and authentic connection. And, at the end of the day, that is what events are all about: the opportunity to create the foundation from which relationships are made. Hope to see you soon in a “rectangle” at one of our events or roundtables!
Nicole Peck is the Vice President of Marketing of IDG Events and as such, she provides strategic leadership to IDG’s event marketing teams worldwide. She joined IDG in November 2020 and brings a wealth of knowledge gained from a career in B2B media, executive management, and marketing at companies like BizBash, Questex and Advanstar, where she focused on multi-channel marketing strategies, business development and corporate growth programs. Nicole has also been a regular speaker at UFI, ECEF, IAEE and SISO industry events and is also a founding member of the Exhibition Think Tank and the North American Chapter of Women in Exhibitions. Connect with Nicole on all social platforms @NicolePeck212