In this post, I’ll take you through the flow of a typical seminar, and point out opportunities to get the most value from your time online.
Before the Seminar
As with many networking opportunities, a little planning and a few simple actions before the event can help you get more value from it. We’ve talked about that in our earlier post about getting the most out of a tradeshow.
Your prep work for attending an online seminar is super quick and easy:
Before the seminar check out the speaker’s profile to learn a little about them and their work.
Draft a tweet, LinkedIn update or Facebook post that says you are looking forward to the speaker’s upcoming seminar. Refer to the date of the seminar, include the link and mention the speaker.
Sign into the seminar 5-10 minutes early to make sure your technology works. Some online seminars have a “pre-show” where you can learn something extra or interact with other attendees.
During the Seminar
Ask questions. Usually, an online seminar will incorporate some kind of question and answer portion. A common method of handling the Q&A is to have a moderator who monitors a chat where participants can type in questions, but however the Q&A is set up, generally it’s on a first asked, first answered basis, so it’s best to get your question in there early.
Look at the Q&A chat box. Often, a little discussion gets going between participants, and there might be a question you can jump in and answer. When you get involved in a conversation with someone else, always ask if you can contact them after the seminar for a more in-depth discussion. Voila! A new contact with a warmed-up reason to call or email them.
Always stay for the Q&A. Sometimes a speaker will answer questions throughout the seminar, but other times there is a separate question and answer session after they have finished their talk. Many people jump off after the presentation is over, but in doing so you miss so much. Often, questions will spur additional thoughts from the speaker and they may provide tips or additional reference material you can check out. Make the Q&A session just as much a priority as the presentation itself.
After the Seminar
Follow up. Often the organizer has a Facebook page or LinkedIn group set up for attendees and the speaker to continue the conversation after the seminar. Go there right after the seminar is over. Ask a question and interact with the other attendees. Joining the “after party” is also a great opportunity to make some new connections.
While it’s important to make time to attend in-person events, the advantage of attending an online seminar is that all of this learning and networking can be done from the comfort of your own desk.
Making new connections does take time, but with the shared experience of attending the same seminar provides a natural ice breaker to get the conversation and the qualification started.
Enjoy your next seminar and look at it as a way to learn and build your network at the same time.
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