We all have a lot of “eventing” to make up for this summer. There are old friends to catch up with, new friends to meet, sessions to see, projects to pitch, deals to lock down, and maybe even some vacationing to do, if we’re lucky. But with things not quite back to normal yet, it’s going to take some planning to be able to do all the things you want to do. Not only that, remote working has made us rethink every part of events, from how we network, to even the kinds of ideas we would pitch in 2021. To help you get the most out of all these changes, here’s our top tips for attendees at upcoming in-person and hybrid events.
Book your trip early.
The NY Times recently reported that more people than ever were planning to travel for this past Memorial Day, and hotel reservations were up just about everywhere. This is all good for events, right? Almost. The article points out that hotels are also seeing an increase in 31 to 60 day bookings — making room turnover less frequent and harder to book for short stays. MarketWatch also pointed out that airbnbs are still especially popular, and maybe even harder to reserve in 2021. On top of all that, there’s less rideshares and rental cars available, according to CBS. So, for all of these reasons, we recommend that attendees book everything they want for their trip as early as possible. Even if your event has a deal for hotel rooms or airbnbs, get that locked down — because a good night’s rest is key to having a good event.
Join a watch party (or even make your own)!
This year’s Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit is considering creating a hub of “watch parties” for their event. Basically these would be official locations where attendees can get together in-person, but stream the event remotely – so a hybrid experience. “They are not the usual suspects,” Ashley Wardlow (the summit’s executive director) said, referring to the watch party hubs. “They’re some really fun spaces to hang out. We’re incentivizing people to get out of the office or the home office and come out and be with each other.”
We couldn’t approve of this idea more. These kinds of get-togethers are a perfect way to connect with people during the event without even having to travel very far. It’s also something that you could even organize on your own. If you know co-workers or friends who are planning on watching remotely, why not just hang out and watch it together? Makes sense to us.
Take your time when it comes to networking.
A recent Forbes article illustrated that good networking depends on taking the time to make real connections with people. You may be trying to land a new job or close a big deal in the future (hint: everyone is), but these things will only happen when you have a mutual trust or real friendship with the people in your network. The article goes on to discuss that to make new connections. It actually helps to take a step back and simply focus on learning about the people you are talking to. Forget about being transactional, think about just having a good time and asking engaging questions. When it comes time to follow-up, write something sincere that helps people get a better understanding of how you think. This last year made clear that friends are what keep us going when things get tough, so let that be the goal.
Know how to get the most out of the safety guidelines.
Every event in 2021, whether hybrid or in-person, will have a slightly different plan for masks, social distancing, building capacities, etc. Before showing up in-person, we recommend doing a little prep to get the most out of these safety guidelines. If it’s required to wear a mask during the event, then make sure to let people know how to recognize you (especially if you are meeting people you’ve never met before). For indoor social distancing rules, maybe suggest an outdoor meeting, so that you can talk at a more natural distance. Bottom line, you can still have a great experience connecting with people at events even with the safety guidelines in place, it just takes a little thinking beforehand.
Have a plan, stick to the plan.
A three day event may seem like a long time, but when you are trying to make up for a whole year of lost eventing, those days can disappear pretty fast. This is why it’s so important to have a plan going for what you really want to accomplish while you are there. If your number one goal is to see old friends — then simply focus on that, and take as much time as you need to really get the most out of the experience. The same goes for networking, or attending sessions, or even simply vacationing. The key is that you don’t get overwhelmed with the options (as easy as it may be) and most importantly — accomplish what you came there to do. Even if that’s laying by the pool, because that can still be just as important!
Update your pitch.
Before pitching your business or new ideas to other attendees, think about if your pitch is really up to date for 2021. Whether we like it or not, remote work has permanently changed the way that we all do business. Every company is able to be more expansive, more global even, and at the same time, still maintain local hubs and communities. All of this should be reflected in the ideas we introduce at events. People are looking for ideas that can help them work smarter, work more collaboratively, or maybe even make them rethink how they do business entirely. So be bold, and think about how your ideas will take 2021 to the next level!
Don’t forget events are supposed to be fun.
Events aren’t supposed to feel like work, and they definitely aren’t supposed to stress you out. If you feel overwhelmed by what to do at the event, make a list of things that you will enjoy most, and focus on getting those things done. Also, don’t worry about closing deals or landing a big job offer — those things take time, and will happen by creating real connections with people in your network. When in doubt, just make it about fun. Because why not?