Engagement and Networking during #NASPA23–Virtual Style
The 2023 NASPA Annual Conference Virtual Experience offers professionals an opportunity to invest in themselves and their professional development through the scholarly research and practice of NASPA presenters and volunteers from anywhere in the world. In terms of engagement and networking, what you get out of the conference depends on your participation and specific goals.
During the past few years, I have hosted and attended multiple virtual events, including conferences, symposiums, and networking events. Below are five top tips to get the most out of your virtual conference experience.
Test your technology (and your space).
Before the Virtual Experience, it is essential to test your technology and prepare your space, so you can fully engage in the conference with no distractions. Look at your space. Do you have good lighting? How does your virtual background look?
Use this time to ensure your technology is intact and requires no updates or additional attention. You can test your audio and camera with any virtual meeting or webinar platform such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meets. The Virtual Experience will be using Zoom to host the general education sessions. If you have access to a Zoom account, this would be the best choice to do some testing.
Prepare your schedule.
Once the MyNASPA app is LIVE, go in there and look at the virtual schedule. The app will allow you to see the sessions and pick a couple you hope to attend. This way, when the conference begins, you will not be confused about what virtual rooms to join and what your schedule looks like for the day.
Use the Chat.
The #NASPA23 Virtual Experience is not the time to be reserved and not participate. Since the conference will be virtual and does not have the in-person advantage of meeting people, I advise using the chat as much as possible. If the chat is enabled in your session, put where you are located, your name, and pronouns. Copy and paste your LinkedIn profile to connect and network with others you meet at the conference.
The chat is also an excellent opportunity to engage in conversation and connect with the presenters. They may be discussing a topic you have experience with or can give additional information. Use the chat feature to put your name out there, network with other participants, and support the presenters.
We have all been in situations where we signed up for a virtual event, and we either put it on in the background and still worked or signed up knowing that we were going to wait for the recording. Since this experience is virtual, try to block off your calendar and not engage in work outside of the conference. If you were in Boston, it would be hard for you to work in the office. Treat the Virtual Experience as if you were at a conference because you ARE!
With over 65 educational sessions, an amazing Keynote Speaker, and events such as Virtual Drag Queen Bingo and Virtual Trivia, there are many ways to be present and participate in the conference. Use this time to invest in yourself and your professional development.
Post on social media.
Hopefully, throughout the conference, you will network with other professionals and use your LinkedIn to build new connections. During the conference, you can connect in multiple ways through social media. If you are using the chat and participating in events, you might be connecting with others online outside of the conference. Post about your experience! Postings could include great sessions you attended, the KeyNote or featured sessions, or that you won Drag Queen Bingo.
Like, comment, and share. Share your experience with others. Tag your new connections and comment on their posts when they post. Like, share, and comment on posts throughout the conference that have #NASPA23 or #NASPAPIC. Referencing the conference will only help you engage more.
Whether you are place-based or virtual during #NASPA23, the Virtual Experience is a great way to network and build connections with other student affairs professionals.