As we grapple with social-distancing and increasingly rely on virtual  events for some semblance of normalcy, community and connection, I want to cover virtual event etiquette for attendees and share some tips on how to get the most out of your virtual event experience.

The man who mistook himself for a pink donut

Since joining the virtual events world several years ago, I have seen numerous examples of attendees failing to make the most of their experience.  Most of the time, attendees miss opportunities by approaching virtual events as passive consumers and not active participants. However, I have also seen more extreme examples of poor virtual event etiquette… such as the man who decided to use a pink donut as his avatar picture. As a result, I wanted to share a few tips regarding how attendees can improve their virtual event etiquette and make the most of their next online experience.

8 Tips to Improve Your Virtual Event Etiquette

  1. Use Social CRM to gain insights and facilitate conversations

Thanks to Social CRM, the process of meeting other attendees with similar interests to your own has never been easier.

In addition to providing a list of potential relationships to follow up on, Social CRM can provide important background information regarding your fellow attendees. For example, you can often find attendees based on geography, interests, industry, associations, and information needs. The more information you have, the less likely it will be that you will make costly social mistakes.

  1. Use self-promotion sparingly (and give before taking)

Unlike other virtual formats (email, websites, etc), virtual events are not optimized to help attendees push their products and services… at least not directly.

A much better approach is to add value to the community through comments, content, and recommendations. If you establish yourself as a subject matter expert, others may invite you into a product discussion. But, don’t have that be your intention. Focus on providing as much value as possible without expecting anything in return. You’re more likely to make real connections and start real, valuable relationships this way.

  1. Don’t be anonymous. Build your personal brand

With Social CRM, social media integration, and numerous opportunities for interaction it always surprises me that some attendees choose to stay anonymous at virtual events.

Virtual events are more than an opportunity to consume information; they are an opportunity to share your passion for a topic with like-minded individuals. They’re also a way to network with those like-minded individuals around the globe and connect with people you would never have otherwise had the chance to meet. So, be yourself and start building authentic, transparent relationships right away!

  1. Be an active participant, not a passive consumer

Many people tend to think of virtual events as just a new way to present video content. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In reality, 80% of the value of attending a virtual event comes from engaging in conversations, asking questions, and leveraging a social CRM to make new contacts. Make it your mission to post (quality) comments, videos, and other content and be proactive about your engagements with other attendees.

  1. Do what you say you will

In the real world and online nothing will kill your credibility faster than failing to follow through on a promise.

Most virtual events provide tools to help you keep track of your conversations and encounters with other attendees. As a result, there is no excuse for missing an important lead or failing to capitalize on a potentially profitable relationship.

  1. Be proactive about your social media strategy

If you are like the rest of us, chances are that your Facebook page is filled with friends, family, co-workers, classmates, barely known acquaintances … and that guy that you bumped into at Dunkin’ Donuts two weeks ago. (I clearly have donuts on my mind…)

As more activities move online, it may make sense to take a second look at your social media strategy. For example, you might want to limit your Facebook page to just close friends and move new business contacts to LinkedIn or your Facebook group. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but it should be a conscious choice.

  1. Take control of your appearance

Don’t be the pink donut guy.

In today’s virtual world, there is absolutely no excuse for not having a professional, clean, and visible profile picture. You should try to avoid pictures of cartoon characters, pets, objects, children, and art. As boring as it sounds, the best type of profile picture to use at a virtual event is one that shows what you actually look like (all be it in the best light possible). People want to connect with real people and having a solid profile picture will enhance your credibility and make you approachable.

  1. Be honest and use full disclosure

Like with other forms of virtual social interaction (Twitter, FB, etc), disclosure and honesty is essential for virtual event attendees.  Always disclose your relationship with any product or service that you are promoting. Give credit to the original authors of any studies or articles that you reference. And, most of all, use honesty as the foundation for long-term partnerships, not short-term transactional relationships.

Virtual events etiquette = common sense?

Over the last few years, I have seen numerous examples of attendees failing to get the most from a virtual event due to poor online etiquette. The good news is that the rules of virtual events etiquette are not complicated. First, attendees should see virtual events as active and not passive experiences. They should engage in conversations, add value to the community and build their personal brands. Second, attendees should leverage social CRM and other technologies to engage with other attendees and build relationships (before, during, and after the event). Finally, attendees should embrace their virtual persona as an extension of themselves and present a professional front to the world. Virtual events etiquette may be common sense… but it needs to be more commonly applied.

Join the conversation. Agree with me? Good. Disagree? Even Better! Tell me why…

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