My coworkers and I are gearing up to participate in the National Apartment Association’s first-ever virtual education conference and expo, APTvirtual, and I can’t WAIT. Honestly, one of my favorite parts of my professional life is attending conferences like NAA, and I’ve been missing these events desperately: the inspiring educational sessions, the networking with multifamily friends, the excitement of the unexpected finds on the trade show floor, the PEOPLE-ing! I’m so looking forward to getting back in the conference groove.
Of course, things are going to be a little different as the conference shifts to a virtual event. While it’s easy to fret about what will be missing when we’re not physically together, I’m focusing on how to make the most of this opportunity.
Here are some ideas I’ve put together that I think will help you maximize your experience at APTvirtual (or any virtual conferences you attend, for that matter.)
APTvirtual: Plan Your Experience
Block off your calendar
The multifamily grind never stops, but it should take a backseat when you’re attending APTvirtual – even if only for an hour or two at a time. After all, you chose to register because you see value in the speakers, educational sessions, exhibitors’ offerings, and networking opportunities, so don’t throw away the time you have to learn and grow! Reserve time on your calendar to commit to the conference, or you will no doubt be tempted by other work distractions.
Take a look around in advance
Once you’ve registered for APTvirtual, you’ll receive a link to log in to the conference platform. I highly recommend jumping in there in advance of the event to familiarize yourself with the features and functionality. As a speaker and conference sponsor, I’ve had advance access to the platform and have been able to play in there for a few weeks. It’s easy to use and fun to explore. Making the time to get oriented now means you’ll be more comfortable navigating during the event, and you’ll reduce your risk of missing any of the time-sensitive live events.
APTvirtual: Dedicate Time to Attend
Set up appointments and network
Virtual conferences aren’t just for learning – they’re for connecting! Networking is alive and well, even at a distance. The APTvirtual platform makes it easy to set up one-to-one appointments with colleagues and suppliers, and you can start making those appointments now. Use the conference platform to request and accept video meetings through the Private Meeting Scheduler. That’s a real benefit to the virtual setting: you can hold informative meetings such as product demos from the convenience (and comfort) of your desk.
Use the buddy system
Conferences are more fun when you have someone to attend with you. I recommend using the buddy system for APTvirtual. Even though you won’t literally be traveling together in person, it can still enhance your conference event to have a “partner in learning” to discuss and debrief sessions and attend networking events together. Make plans to catch up and discuss keynote sessions after the fact, or message with them throughout about points you found interesting. Being able to discuss what you learned makes it more beneficial for you and everyone else and will help you to recall the information later on. It can also be less awkward to attend virtual networking events when you have a colleague by your side!
APTvirtual: Have FUN!
Braindates, Wellness Labs, Happy Hours
APTvirtual features a variety of shared experiences beyond the educational lineup. Check out the small group Braindate conversations taking place and join in on one or more conversations that are of interest to you – or start a dialogue of your own. 10-minute Wellness Lab activities are sprinkled throughout the agenda to help you maintain your Zen. And of course, it wouldn’t be a conference without some social events. Look for me at the dueling pianos Happy Hour on Wednesday, November 4 at 3:30 PM ET.
Use the hashtag #APTvirtual on your favorite social channels during the conference to share your experiences and follow the hashtag to see what others are posting. It’s a great way to build community and enhance the social aspect of the conference—which is the best part! Let’s use all the tools we can to make APTvirtual a shared experience.
Afterward: Follow Up and Make the Most of Resources
Take advantage of recordings and post-event access
One advantage of APTvirtual is that many of the educational sessions will be recorded and available for later viewing. This means you no longer have to pick between two sessions that are at the same time and can instead attend both in your own time. And, the conference platform will remain accessible for a window of time after the event, so if you weren’t able to explore all of the varied suppliers in the exhibit hall, you can still do so.
While I’m sorry I didn’t get to travel to Boston, where the 2020 NAA Education Conference was originally planned to take place, and I so wish I could see my multifamily family in person and greet you with a warm hug, I am nonetheless really looking forward to the time we can spend together, virtually! Will you be attending APTvirtual? Find me in the conference platform and let’s connect!