Ever experienced this?

You attend an amazing conference. Maybe it’s a live, in-person event at a conference center, like in the olden days, or maybe it’s online. Wherever it’s located, the content and speakers are so riveting you don’t want to leave your seat, not even to grab your UberEats lunch order (I’m looking at you, Sprout Sessions attendees).

You learn a ton. You take copious notes, so many that your hand cramps up. There’s one session that stands out as your favorite and you’re sure the takeaways could totally transform your team, probably your business and definitely the way your business approaches and values social.

You eagerly await the event recordings and follow-up resources so you can pass them along to your colleagues who didn’t attend.

When those resources finally land, you excitedly share them with your team. The response? Crickets. So, at your next meeting you ask if anyone’s taken a peek. “It’s been a long week, I haven’t had a chance.” “Oh, I’ve been drowning in end of month reporting. You know how it is.” “I’m dying to—I’ll review this weekend!” But ultimately,  you hear little else and those resources get lost in the shuffle.

Attending continued education events, virtual or in-person, is truly priceless. It gives you insight into how other organizations are walking the walk. And when trying to solve meaty problems, it skips you a few spaces ahead because you don’t have to start from square one. You can draw on expertise from speakers who have excelled in your industry or already tackled challenges you’re facing , and then shape their valuable lessons to your needs and goals. At many events, like Sprout Summit happening on September 30, 2020, you can even ask questions and get them answered live.

So how can you get the most out of a virtual event before, during and after the event?

Before the event:

1. Get your boss to attend.

Tie the invite to something they care about, whether it’s the ever-evolving preferences of your audience (i.e. business intelligence) or executing your customer care a bit more flawlessly. Pinpoint one specific session or high-level speaker that will push them over the edge to actually registering and watching, either with you or on their own.Here’s an example of an email you can share to invite your boss, and other team members, to Sprout Summit. To start a draft email and add this copy, click here.

Subject: Guess who’s speaking at Sprout Summit!

Hi [insert team member name here],

I just signed up for Sprout Summit: The Social Marketer’s Map for 2021 on September 30 and would love for you to join me.

This half-day, virtual event features an impressive line-up of industry pros ready to share actionable tips and strategies for navigating 2021’s unknowns. The keynote speaker is Dara Treseder, Head of Global Marketing at Peloton, and there’s even an executive panel featuring a CMO and two VPs discussing how they’re using social data to prioritize for 2021.

For more info, including the full list of speakers and detailed agenda visit: https://sproutsocial.com/summit/

2. Send around a calendar invite.

Many events like the upcoming Sprout Summit have a nifty Add-to-Calendar button. Use it to put it on your schedule, then pass along the invitation to  people within your organization or beyond that you think will benefit from the event

During the event:

1. Live-tweet what you learn and share your top takeaways on LinkedIn.

This is a great way to keep a record of what you’ve learned, share with your network and participate in the event It also showcases your investment in continued education, which is never bad for the ol’ career. Tag colleagues who may not be attending but would find the content valuable and relevant to what they do.

2. Connect with the speakers on social.

Follow them on Twitter, send a request on LinkedIn, let them know you appreciate them and share what they taught you. Again, career building for the win! For Sprout Summit, we’ve created a Twitter list of all of our speakers so it’s easy for attendees to find their handles, livetweet and stay in touch.

Screenshot of List members screen on Twitter featuring speakers from Sprout Summit

After the event:

1. Make the most of what you learn.

Put together a few slides with data that was shared at the event, key takeaways and your recommended actions based on what you learned. Then, present them at your next team meeting.This is a great way to generate interest in the event’s content and motivate your colleagues to follow up and act on the information without having to incessantly nudge them via email. It’s also a way to seed early buy-in for ideas and initiatives you care about.

If there are any additional resources or collateral you’d like to share, follow up after the meeting to keep the ball rolling.

2. Follow up to learn more.

Is there a tool you learned about for the first time at the event that you want to learn more about?Even if you aren’t sure exactly what it entails, how it’d fit into your business or if you have the budget? Most events give you an option to talk to a team member at the company throwing the event so you have an opportunity to find out more. Then, once you have a full understanding, you can pass along recommendations to the decision-makers in your organization that outline why your brand stands to benefit, a plan of action and potential results.

Make the most of your event insights

I hope this was a helpful primer for making the most of virtual events and using them to learn, grow your career and generate further investment from leadership. Find me @LLHITZ if you have other suggestions or virtual event ideas that you’re dying to share, and make sure to sign up for Sprout Summit if you haven’t already.

Save your spot!