EI Series 1, Part 1
Wesley Johnson, Energy Knect
With the growing impact of COVID-19, it has become increasingly difficult for professionals to find effective networking tools whilst live conferences have been temporarily suspended. Businesses have had to embrace new ways of communicating online to ensure that they remain relative and stay ahead of their competitors.
Energy Knect understands the importance of networking for businesses and that’s why we have established our EI Series, to help address core challenges that professionals face in today’s working environment and provide effective solutions to overcome those challenges to set them up for sustained success.
As part one of our first Series, we reached out to our global network of Energy professionals to identify 3 core challenges that businesses currently face with online networking. Following the results from our EI survey, it was apparent that Tech knowledge, Engagement and Sponsorship values were the 3 core challenges that businesses face in today’s working environment. We have addressed these challenges below and provided effective solutions to overcome them.
Virtual event technology is fairly new and therefore, as much as there is a keen interest for professionals to engage in online networking, navigating through this newly established way of working can be quite daunting for many. If you plan to partake in an online event, you will need to feel confident in the technology that you are using to ensure that you can successfully access all relative content and networking opportunities from afar, with no in-person event attendees to help support you along the way.
Virtual events remain the safest option for businesses to remain relative, develop new business and learn the latest industry trends. Unfortunately, there is no alternative right now and this will likely be the case for some time to come. Even when live events get back to the new normal, it’s quite possible that we may see a hybrid approach as more and more users get acquainted with the technology and realise the convenience and cost-saving benefits of virtual events. An informal survey by Nature showed that 80% of 486 respondents believe that some meetings should continue to be held virtually, even after the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst most professionals are coming to grips with the technologies that are required to work remotely, they should fully embrace virtual technologies. Event organisers should work closely with the industry to help educate them with virtual event technologies, and companies must embrace the technology transition to avoid the risk of being left behind whilst their competitors grab vacant market share.
Alone in the office, speakers must struggle not only with technological demands but also with connecting with their remote audience. Not all of us are lucky enough to find a quiet corner in the house. With professionals now embracing the new way of work-life at home, there can be many distractions such as technology glitches, your dog barking, your neighbour drilling and even the possibility of your kids hi-jacking your conversation. Although these challenges are typically accepted for virtual networking, it is still somewhat distracting. The results from our EI survey concluded there seems to be a large amount of communication being lost through online networking. Consequently, this has to be supported in other ways, in how we follow up, and how we ask questions to ensure that we are capturing a complete understanding of our prospective client’s objectives.
Networking within a virtual event is much more scalable than a live event. It is much easier to connect with multiple professionals that have the same interest and challenges and stay connected. Overmore, event organisers are making online networking very effective by using multiple AI technologies coupled with human intervention for a complete networking solution. They are providing matchmaking features that autonomously pairs you up with potential prospects, and allows you to further your discussion through your preferred video conferencing solution. Following results from our EI survey, it seems as if companies are also benefiting from short and impactful online webinars and workshops. It’s simple, efficient and cost-effective, and companies are using these platforms to educate their target audience and help them overcome challenges. This approach allows you to be seen as a thought leader and sets you up for greater follow up success. If you are going to go down this route, engagement is key to keep your online audience interested. Innovative ways that companies are using to keep their audience engaged include the likes of gamification, polls and Q&A features.
The value of sponsoring an online event
One of the primary benefits that physical events can bring to a sponsor, is the access to their network and target audience. Sponsors are typically given a platform to update, promote and engage with existing and prospective clients. There are multiple ways that conference organisers can bring value to their sponsors to ensure that their sponsors business development objectives are met such as; physical speaking opportunities, exhibition booths, private networking functions and physical onsite branding. These opportunities are typically associated with physical events, and the perception of this may leave many potential sponsors a bit uncertain about how live events can offer the same value for their investment.
Relocating conferences online has made them accessible to a larger and more diverse audience. Because of lower price points and the ability to join from anywhere in the world, sponsors will now have the ability to capture more leads and make new professional contacts that were perhaps not able to join live conferences in the past. Virtual conferences do not require any physical presence and therefore, there are no additional overheads such as flights and accommodation. Your content can also be easily recorded, which means it can be repurposed at a later date or used in conjunction with a future marketing campaign. This saves you time, money and makes your business development approach more efficient. Data analytics is also much easier with an online event. Virtual platforms can let you know who your audience is and what they do which in turn allows you to make more qualified connections with the help of the event organiser. Having something tangible in this regard can assist you with your post show reporting.
Because physical events have been put on hold this does not mean that business leads have to be put on hold. We already use virtual networking services such as LinkedIn and other platforms to build new connections and identify new opportunities. Online events can be very effective for networking and comes along with benefits such as a reduction in costs, time efficiency and accessibility to a wider and more diverse audience. Embrace the technology transition and work closely with your event host to ensure you have the necessary tools to extract the maximum value out of your online networking experience.
Energy Knect has created a free online networking platform to support Energy professionals. Please feel free to visit our website to register.