Mind the Platform Gap

While we’ve all been managing through a host of challenges since the onset of the global pandemic, for those of us involved in business development, the challenges have been formidable. A key challenges is the way virtuality hinders conference and event networking. If your firm attends about a dozen conferences a year like mine does, you’ve likely become a connoisseur of the various conferencing and event platforms that have been in use over the past year. So far I’ve seen three such platforms I like:

Airmeet – This platform allows you to set up an event or conference in a virtual conference room with various “tables”, some of which can be sponsored, so you can spend time at appropriate intervals moving from table to table to meet with whatever virtual group of 8 or less is there. In addition, both before and during presentations, it gives you the ability to private message any attendee. When the presentation starts, tables disappear, but at least networking options exist here that allow one to meet new people and find existing contacts to chat up.

HopIn – The conference I attended using the HopIn platform featured a mainstage for all-audience presentations, as well as breakout sessions for small group, targeted presentations. It also had a feature for creating a virtual expo center with booths, opportunities to talk to those manning them and to see presentations posted there. Finally, there was a lovely feature called “Meet Someone New”. Once you sign into this section of the platform, it connects you, one on one, with the next person available, for 10 minutes, after which you can choose to extend your chat, swap contact info, or simply let the chat expire and move on to the next one.

Whova – Whova’s features seem to be a mash up of what’s available with Airmeet and HopIn. There are networking tables, expo booth features, abilities to review profiles of attendees, reach out for and schedule meetings, as well as tiered access to various features for attendees who pay for different levels of access. Haven’t seen the “Meet Someone New” feature there, but that’s only my experience.

Going forward, when networking is a primary goal of attendance for virtual conferences, we make our decision in part based on the platform the conference uses and whether and how it creates opportunities for networking. How about you?

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