If you’ve been in the working world for a while, you’ve likely been presented with several opportunities to attend conferences related to your position or your field of work. And conferences offer tons of benefits that can help accelerate your career, from additional training to networking opportunities.
However, conferences are often hard to attend. They’re expensive and often far away, and they can last up to a week or even two. You may not be able to convince your manager to give you the funding – or the time off – you need to attend.
Can’t attend a conference you really want to go to? There’s good news – there are many ways to take advantage of conferences, even if you can’t be there in person. And many of them are thanks to advanced technology. Below, check out a few ways you can take advantage of conferences, even when you’re not attending.
If you find a conference you want to attend, do your research – there may be multiple options for attendance. From telecast speeches to live-streamed webinars, there are plenty of options for hearing speakers and participating in conversations at conferences.
Some conferences may turn a few talks or sessions into webinars that can be accessed live or after the event. Some are entirely telecast or live-streamed, giving you access to nearly everything you’d get if you were there in person. But look carefully – you may need to pay a fee or get special access codes to access these sessions.
If taking time off is the issue, watching webinars or live-streams won’t help. But checking out recaps of conferences sessions on industry blogs can be a simple and fast way to keep up with conference content. Find out which bloggers or professionals in your industry are attending the conference, and check their websites for recaps of important events. Even better? Get in on the conversation by commenting on blog posts or asking questions.
These days, keeping up with a conference on social media is almost as good as actually attending. The conference you want to attend likely has a social media hashtag (for example, I’m keeping up with #HRTechConf on Twitter this week). Search the event’s hashtag and follow it throughout the conference to get an insider look at what’s going on, what’s being said, and who’s getting seen. Social media is also a great way to get involved in conversations. Conferences often host Q&A sessions or recaps on social media – respond with any thoughts or questions you have.
Tools to Try
If a conference you want to attend is scheduled sometime in the future, you can – and should – take some time to familiarize yourself with the tools you’ll use to access it. That way, you won’t waste time the day or week of learning how to use a platform you’ve never seen before. Some tools to familiarize yourself with include:
- Gotomeeting.com: This website is a very popular choice among conference hosts who prefer to use telecast and HD video options.
- Conference-streaming.com: This company provides a variety of options for conference attendees, including live-streaming, virtual conferencing, and podcasts. Hosts can also use the site to build microsites for individual conferences.
- Google hangouts: A lot of companies host real-time “meet and greets” on Google Hangout. In fact, we just got an email from RecruitingBlogs.com inviting us to a live hangout in their booth at HRTech.
If you’re not already, you should also get acquainted with – and start building a presence on – social media sites and groups that will cover the conference. Get an idea of how people interact on Twitter or Facebook in your industry. Start commenting on blog posts or LinkedIn groups before the fact, so you’ll have more traction when it comes time to participate in conference conversations.
Make the Most of Any Conference
Whether you attend in person, tune into a podcast or participate in a Twitter chat, conferences are an excellent way for you to stay on top of industry trends and network with important professionals in your field. Even better? Conferences provide you with access to information that will allow you to sharpen your skills in order to better contribute to your company’s goals. Tuning into relevant talks and participating in relevant conversations can help you make the most of any conference, whether you’re in the room or across the world.