Credit union board and committee members relish their opportunities to attend industry training events and conferences. These events provide an opportunity to learn new ideas, find solutions to problems and network with peers and colleagues.
In the current business and public health environment, many conferences and training sessions have gone virtual. They may look and feel different from in-person gatherings, but the benefits of virtual events can be just as fruitful.
Expecting to grow your business knowledge and network by attending a virtual event is one way to ensure you will indeed get the most out of it. Also consider the following:
- Understand the virtual platform
Virtual conference organizers will notify you in advance what software they are using, as well as how you can access it. In advance of the virtual conference or class, it is a good idea to try the link provided to you. Check to make sure it works. Once you are into the software, get acquainted with it, how to access both audio and video, and how you will communicate when you need to do so. The last thing you need if you have paid for a virtual conference or school is to be fussing with the software while the presentation has started. Even if you are familiar with the software being used, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- Go as a group
Even if you can’t physically attend the event with people you know, there are still advantages to having a group of colleagues attend a virtual event together. It can help boost your motivation, increase your attention and provide accountability for learning.
If you’re attending the same virtual session with a colleague, you can use text messaging to communicate your thoughts about what the presenter said. At the end of the day’s sessions, some groups use video conferencing tools such as Zoom to discuss key takeaways and points for consideration prior to the next day’s sessions.
- Take advantage of recordings
At an in-person gathering, you can’t attend two sessions at once. If two sessions about your specific discipline are held simultaneously, having access to recordings means you can attend one without distraction, knowing you’ll be able to review the other session’s content later.
- Find out if you have access to the slide decks
If so, your notetaking won’t need to be so hurried. You can listen intently rather than harkening back to your high school or college classroom days of feverishly transcribing your instructor’s lecture.
- Minimize distractions
Clear your calendar and if possible, shut your door to exclude distractions, whether attending virtually from the office or home. It can be tempting to check your phone or email, so try to limit multi-tasking to ensure you don’t miss out on any important information during the sessions.
- Connect with other attendees
A top reason people attend conferences is to connect with other industry professionals. These conversations allow you to share ideas with others and make lasting connections that can help you throughout your career. Networking at virtual events may seem elusive if you haven’t tried it, but it works. Try asking questions in the chat of the presenter during sessions, or attend roundtables to connect via video with other attendees.
CUNA’s virtual conferences and schools this year are set up to allow and encourage virtual networking. These events include:
- CUNA Credit Union Board Accelerator Virtual Conference, April 6 & 7
- CUNA Board Development Virtual School, October 13 & 14
- CUNA Credit Union Board Leadership Virtual Roundtable, November 16 & 17
- CUNA Supervisory Committee & Internal Audit Virtual Conference, December 7 – 9
Bring a confident attitude to your virtual conference and training sessions. Be ready to ask questions and engage with other learners in the chat. Be prepared to reap great benefits that you may have previously thought were possible only in face-to-face meetings.