Contributors from members of the Copper team
Virtual events or in-person; what's your preference? While virtual has dominated for a while now, sometimes we want the real thing. Thankfully, hybrid events give you the best of both worlds. More professional organizations are offering events for entrepreneurs and small and midsize business (SMB) owners with combined in-person and virtual components. This guide will help you dive into hybrid events with confidence so you can get the most out of them for your business.
What are hybrid events, exactly?
A hybrid event is any gathering that people can attend in-person or virtually, regardless of their location. Successful hybrid events like trade shows and conferences are an excellent way for people to broaden their professional network and build brand awareness. These four tips will help you take full advantage of everything hybrid events have to offer — and even start putting some creative strategies for sales outreach into practice too.
1. Research hybrid events
Hybrid events span the whole gamut of categories, so take the time to do your research and find occasions that are a good fit for your interests and industry.
Do a search for events that are specifically tailored to your business. Are you looking for a larger industry-wide conference to expand your network, or are you targeting a smaller, niche event that has a very specific focus. Adjust your search to find the types of hybrid events that will be the most beneficial to you.
A good place to start your search is with any industry publications or professional organizations you’re already familiar with. Most industries have well-established associations that hold annual conferences or more frequent events. Check their websites or social media pages to see upcoming events. If you’re looking for more localized events, check sites like Meetup or Eventbrite.
Start with a couple events, get to know the organizations that are hosting them, and go from there. It may take a few tries before you find a group or two that are an ideal fit for you and your organization.
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2. Check safety measures
In-person events have increased in popularity now, but it’s still normal for people to have different comfort levels. It’s understandable for individuals to feel cautious and prefer remaining virtual participants. Plus, how else can you attend a professional event in your pajama pants? If safety’s a concern for you, make an informed decision about attending hybrid events by first finding out if the scheduled activities require masks or social distancing, or if they’re held outdoors. Check the event website or social media page for details.
If you can’t easily find this information for in-person or remote attendees, reach out to the event organizers or event planners for information about safety precautions. Then make the best decision for you based on your comfort level. If you don’t attend live, you can still be an attendee at home and enjoy the happenings virtually.
3. Be prepared and make the most of “face time” with attendees
As you begin to attend hybrid events, setting goals ahead of time will help you reap the most benefit from your time. You might set a goal of “making 7 new connections” or “identifying 1 target company for account-based marketing efforts.”
Before the event begins, deepen your research and identify five attendees ahead of time who you’d like to connect with. If it’s appropriate, consider sending them a quick LinkedIn message introducing yourself and mention that you’ll be attending. Some hybrid events have a built-in virtual networking app that allows you to easily connect with event attendees, so make sure you check out the information you receive after registering.
Make sure not to skip the social events. Even if you’re attending virtually, hybrid events tend to offer many interactive activities or networking opportunities for a primarily virtual audience — from speed networking sessions to breakout discussion groups after a seminar or workshop. If you talk to people at the virtual events and take part in icebreaker conversation starters and virtual networking, your chances are greater of making a positive impression. Who knows, you might even gain some potential customer leads and partnerships in the process.
One note for virtual attendees: make sure to keep your cameras turned on during social or interactive events. Make an effort to actively participate and introduce yourself, either verbally or in the group chat. Being an active virtual participant can help increase engagement and build brand awareness for your business.
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4. Keep track of what you learn and who you meet
If all goes well, you’ll not only achieve your goals for the event, but you’ll also enjoy yourself while you’re at it. Keep your end results in mind while you’re participating in the professional hybrid event, though, and make sure to jot down important notes and names so you know who to follow up with and what to say.
The most important part of attending a hybrid event comes after it’s over, and it’s all about follow-up. Designate time the day after it ends to send LinkedIn connections and/or emails to people you had positive interactions with. Being connected with professionals on LinkedIn will give you an organic way to nurture your relationship by interacting on the platform over time — and can open up unexpected business opportunities in the future.
But the follow-up doesn’t end there. Keep track of your new contacts and if you don’t hear from them after the first outreach, make sure to send another note to remind them about connecting. Keep it casual and avoid being overly aggressive or salesy in your follow-up messages.
Hi [first name], it’s me again from [Company name]. Can we connect for 10 minutes so I can share the resources with you that I mentioned at the conference?
Looking forward to hearing from you!
[Your first name]
A month or two after the event, revisit your goals to see whether you met them. Even if you didn’t fully meet a goal, document how close you came, and gauge how valuable the event was in meeting your business objectives. Reviewing this feedback will help you in improving the results of future hybrid events you attend.
Take full advantage of hybrid events
From reaching your professional goals to making new connections, the benefits of successful hybrid events are endless. They bring a global business landscape directly to your computer, without the required travel and expenses of attending in-person. You just might make some professional connections that will benefit your business in the long run.