Getting the most out of online events and conferences
With the current social distancing requirements, we are all needing to adapt to work and socialise remotely, giving rise to online events and conferences.
With efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, many conferences planned for 2020 are quickly adapting and moving entirely online.
With so many of us used to networking and learning at professional events in person, transitioning to remote events may be tricky – and may seem less productive.
But as the world shifts quickly, it is more important than ever to ensure that your skills are up to date and relevant for the world we now find ourselves in.
What can you expect if you attend a conference online? They are not exactly like in-person conferences, but they can be just as valuable if you know what to look for and take the right steps to make the most of the experience.
Online conferences are like a mix between professional in-person conferences and webinars or online courses. While the latter two usually cover a narrow subject, online conferences cover a broad range of subjects for an industry.
Many online conferences will provide a variety of content opportunities, like keynote presentations, workshops, panel conversations or open Q&A forums for attendees. Use these opportunities to develop your skills gaps.
Within accounting and finance, technical digital skills and current finance software knowledge is key. But so are the softer skills such as agility, adaptability, problem solving and resilience.
Matt Weston, managing director at Robert Half UK, says: ‘One key benefit of online events and conference is that many are available to watch on-demand at a later time. Given the shifting schedules that many now face juggling home and work commitments, this can be a great way to upskill in your own time.
‘Attending live online conferences and events do come with the added benefit of online networking. You may not believe it, but it can be just as easy to network at online events as it is at in-person events.
‘While you can’t make comments to the person sitting next to you at a keynote presentation, you can directly message someone who asked a particularly interesting question during a webinar or Q&A forum, or set up meetings with them in a virtual breakout room.’
If the conference or webinar platform doesn’t provide these built-in networking capabilities, take note of a potential contact’s name and follow up with them on LinkedIn. You now have something in common with people attending the online event, so it should be easy to make a connection.
Whether it be to improve in your current role, or improve your prospects for finding a new role, It is very important to set aside time for professional development as it is always time well spent, whether in-person or virtual.
This article was first published in Student Accountant in July 2020