Thursday September 3, 2020

How to Stand Out as a Virtual Conference Attendee

Virtual conference attendee joining breakout session

HubSpot’s INBOUND 2020 is quickly approaching, which means our team is getting excited to attend our next big digital event.

While a virtual conference is a great way to learn from industry experts, it can be easy to get lost amongst the other screens in gallery view as an attendee.

These six tips will help you stand out amidst the other viewers dialed in.

Keep in mind, the tips below feature some examples from a popular video conferencing platform, Zoom. While not all conferences utilize this platform, most have similar or identical features.

Update Your Profile

This may sound like a given, but you should always review your video conferencing platform profile before logging in for an online event. If the event allows you to create a digital profile as well, make sure you’re matching up the information on both so that you’re sharing consistent contact information.

When doing this on your video conferencing platform, make sure your profile is filled out with more than just your name and email. You should also include your job title, company and additional contact information.

This information will be visible to other participants who look you up, so you want to provide as much valuable, accurate information to them as possible.

Edit Your Visible Name

In addition to updating your main profile, be mindful of the name that you’re displaying for the conference chat feature.

On Zoom, you can do that by opening up the participant list when you log into a conference session. Simply open the list, hover over your name and click “more.” In the dropdown, you can opt to rename yourself.

Keep in mind, this only updates your name for that session. To permanently change your name, or to update it in meetings that don’t allow you to rename yourself, you’ll have to edit your main platform profile.

Most conferencing tools will default to your full name, but there are other ways you can utilize this valuable space. For example, you may change your chat name to your first name and company name.

If I did this, mine would read “Jordin, Simple Machines Marketing.” This way people will always remember exactly what company you’re representing, especially if you plan to utilize the chat functionality (pro tip: we recommend you use this space whenever allowed!).

While your name and company are a safe bet for most events, be mindful of the type of virtual conference you’re attending. If it’s a social media focused conference, for instance, you may consider using your name and primary social media handle.

In this case, my visible name might read “Jordin @simplemachinesmarketing” so that people can easily find our company on social media.

If you’re a freelancer, recent graduate or are looking for your next job, consider adding that into your chat to gain visibility with professionals who are hiring.

While you don’t want to overdo it asking people if they’re hiring and risk making the wrong first impression, having this strategic nod to your employment status can pay off big. If you add this to your chat name, take advantage of the chat feature to add insightful comments and draw positive attention to your visible name.

Use a Meaningful Profile Picture

No, I’m not talking about a sentimental photo from your last birthday party. It’s important to think of this space as valuable real estate to advertise yourself.

If you don’t have your video turned on, your profile picture is what will show up in your video frame while you’re speaking or in a gallery view (or your name will default if you don’t have a profile picture added).

Make the most of this space by creating a custom profile picture graphic that includes:

  • Your name
  • Job title
  • Company name or logo
  • Your email address

This allows people to easily find you and connect post-conference. Plus, you’ll stand out from the sea of names and headshots in each portion of the event you attend. If you have space, you may also consider adding a smaller headshot in a portion of the graphic.

To change out your profile picture, go to the main setting of your video conferencing application account. Most software will not only have an easily accessible way to edit this, but they’ll also provide recommended sizing for the image. Make sure to pay attention to this and test your image ahead of time so your photo isn’t pixelated.

If you’re using Zoom, you can “select a jpg/jpeg, gif or png image file with size smaller than 2M to upload” which will be cropped to a square image, so keep that in mind as you create your graphic.

Utilize Custom Virtual Backgrounds

While a profile picture can help deliver key information when you aren’t utilizing the video feature, there are some instances (like smaller breakout groups) where video is more appropriate.

Here, you can take advantage of a similar feature to share your contact information with other conference goers.

Custom virtual backgrounds (as they’re referred to on Zoom) allow you to control what other viewers see behind you on a video call. Not only does this hide clutter behind you, but it also lets you utilize the extra space to share key contact information.

Create a graphic using the same information here as you did on your new profile picture, though if you added a photo of yourself in your profile picture, you can leave that off here since you’ll be visible in the video.

When creating your graphic, make sure to consider the following:

  • Put your contact info in the corners or to one side so you don’t block it on the video
  • Ensure the fonts are large and legible
  • Don’t go overboard with the background image – if it’s too busy people won’t know where to look
  • Make sure you’re optimizing your image to the correct specifications. If you’re not sure what your settings are, 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels is usually a safe bet.

If you’re setting up your virtual background on Zoom and need help navigating the steps, check out this video and helpful guide from Zoom. Even if you aren’t using Zoom, it has great tips for what to wear and how to set up your lighting for the best virtual background usage.

Follow Relevant Keywords in the Chat

This can help you set yourself apart as a thought leader in the chat and allow yourself the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussion, get answers to questions you may have or find likeminded professionals.

If you’re using Zoom, you can easily set up keyword notifications in your desktop client settings. Open Zoom on your computer and click on the gear icon below your profile picture in the top right-hand corner. In the pop-up that appears, select chat in the left-hand navigation. Here, you can scroll down to “receive notifications for keywords.”

Virtual Conference Relevant Keyword Setup

Once you click on the keywords button, you can set up as many notifications as you’d like. A few ideas for keywords to follow include:

  • Your company name
  • Your company’s main services
  • Software or features you have questions on

Dress to Impress

Dressing to impress doesn’t mean that you need to attend the conference in a suit (though if it is a formal conference you may want to consider it).

If your company has awesome swag, consider wearing it for the virtual conference.

Not only will this be comfortable to wear all day (I’ll always take an excuse to wear one of our team Patagonias), but it helps reinforce who you are and what you do without being so in your face.

If you have a lot of company apparel to choose from, ask yourself these questions to help narrow down your selection:

  • Which apparel has the logo or company name predominantly displayed near the top?
  • Which apparel has the best color contrast between the clothing and graphics?
  • Is it too casual for the event?
  • If it includes a slogan or internal communication, would it make sense to attendees?

With custom backgrounds it’s also important to consider how your clothing will interact with the image you’ve created.

First, if your video conferencing platform utilizes a green screen feature to pull in the background, make sure you aren’t wearing green! If you are, your top will become a part of the background and you’ll look like a floating head. For the same reason, make sure you aren’t wearing the same color as your background graphic.

Take Advantage of Any Conference Social Media Groups

To help create a sense of community, many digital conferences are utilizing social media groups to allow attendees to connect with one another. Use this to your advantage.

Ahead of the conference, join these groups and start engaging with fellow virtual conference attendees. Once you’ve built some connections, take the time to invite select people to a digital happy hour or meet-up of your own during the days of the conference, just like you might if you were attending an in-person conference.

This allows you to engage with potential partners, vendors and clients in a more controlled setting where you can better introduce yourself and your services. Just be careful to not make it just a sales pitch call (though you can try and secure some of those separately, too!).

If you do host your own networking event, make sure you aren’t planning it at times that overlap with the conference or you’ll be stuck on a Zoom call alone.

Show Up to Your Virtual Conference Prepared

Just like you wouldn’t show up to a conference unprepared, test and prepare everything ahead of the digital event.

Confirm all your supporting images work, make sure your family didn’t borrow your computer and change your profile information and confirm the outfit you planned to wear won’t mess up your virtual background.

We might not be able to help you pick out the perfect outfit, but if you need help developing a virtual event strategy for your business let us know – we can help

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