An online community for your event or meeting helps exhibitors, sponsors, speakers and attendees get engaged with an event and connect with people before, during and after the event.
Participating in an online event community isn’t much different than communicating face-to-face. However, sometimes when we inject the word “online” into the mix, people need to be reminded of some simple rules of “online” interaction.
Follow this list and your chances of meeting the right people and building a positive professional brand at your next event will be maximized.
Online Event Community Participation DOs and DONT’s
1. Do Connect… Don’t Collect
Online event communities trust that other participants are registered for the same reasons they are – to make connections, have discussions and share resources. Don’t spend your time collecting names and trying to force relationships. You’ll reap more benefits in the long run by giving to the community instead of taking.
2. Do Engage… Don’t Promote
No one likes a spammer who jumps into every conversation with blatant promotions of his company. Instead, engage with other participants by asking and answering questions, reaching out to find common interests and sharing resources with the community. Exhibitors who spam may be banned or frowned upon from the event community.
3. Do Discuss… Don’t Disparage
An event online community may be open to all sponsors, exhibitors, attendees and speakers. You may see your competitors participating in the community. Please refrain from making negative comments about other companies or different points of view. Discussion is ok… insults are not.
4. Do Participate… Don’t Sit Back
Get involved! The more you put into the community, the more you’ll get out of it. Start discussions, chime in on conversations, find people with similar interests. Now’s your chance to really get to know the attendees.
5. Do Be Original… Don’t Copy & Paste
An online event community loves to share resources. Please make sure your contributions are your own or are properly credited to their creators.
6. Do Ask questions… Don’t Give Speeches
Online communities are not podiums for monologues. The beauty of a participatory community is getting feedback from multiple points of view. Take the time to respond to other people’s comments about your conversations, rather than stating your position and leaving the conversation. You’ll find that event attendees prefer a real discussion over a one-way presentation.
7. Do Be Yourself… Don’t Put on Airs
Online communities value authenticity. They are much more likely to engage with a fellow participant who shows his personality, not just his company’s tagline. Upload your own photo, and add personal tags to your profile. You’re likely to find people who are interested in you as a person with ideas, rather than a company with products.
8. Do Seek Colleagues… Don’t Stalk Clients
You may find some online event community members are very open to connecting with exhibitors, and others prefer only to interact with other attendees. If you reach out to an attendee and he doesn’t respond back, don’t keep pursuing. You should have plenty of opportunities to find attendees who want to interact.
Author: Christopher Uschan is Omnipress’ not-so-secret marketing weapon. He’s well versed in new marketing strategies, technology, social media and communications. This Director of Marketing has nearly 15 years serving associations and the events industry. And, he’s also the leader of the Engage365 social media for events community. Chris can be found on Twitter as @chrisuschan.