As our late summer/fall schedule continues to turn into a virtual event-scape for optics & photonics, I’m seeing many options to participate and lots of unfamiliarity and hesitation among exhibitors and attendees. I’ve sorted through some of the details to shortcut things as to why you still should consider attending. We will be doing this for the next year; it would be a shame to miss out when information is so easily shared this way.
This week’s show on my radar is the SPIE Optics+Photonics Digital Forum . It’s free to attend, but they are encouraging early registration to gauge bandwidth needs and other planning. All of the scheduled conference presentations, downloads, live features, and networking sessions are still available.
If exhibitors would like a credit for 2020, they should apply, but it can be rolled over into 2021 instead if you prefer.
Virtual Events in General
Networking – Sadly, there will not be any wining and dining or enjoying a beer in person. However, nothing will stop you from enjoying a beverage while attending online. For O+P, there are several options that will be led on specific topics of equity and diversity, and two sessions specifically for networking, with two more sessions for career labs.
Exhibitors – You will have the opportunity to provide a pre-recorded product demo for viewing and submitting questions. No missing shipments, no booth set up time.
Pros – No travel fees. Introverts celebrate! No long flights or awkward chit chat. Log on when you have time, or block out your day to enjoy selected topic presentations—no tired feet at the end. Hit pause and attend to something urgent (get a snack, answer your boss’s text) without missing anything important. No mask fails or attempting to have a quiet conversation from 6 feet apart.
Talk to people and find a solution to your next project questions.
Job hunting? Do it in the comfort of your home office.
Market Reach – If a big part of your target market is China, Canada or Europe, this may be the only way to reach that group of prospects until the travel bans are lifted to the US.
Cons – This is all still in the experimental stage for the most part. Things might not play out as planned. It’s ok. Everyone is learning on-the-fly right now, and there is no dress rehearsal. On the pro side, if you are attending, you won’t need to sort it out yourself.
Additional options that have surfaced recently are looking at ways to provide more visibility for exhibitors. Media companies are scrambling up webinars, new sponsorships, video hosting, and production to support this overall digital endeavor. Talk to your rep to learn what options might be the best fit for your group.
There is really no option to replace real, live human interaction. We’re all feeling the need for that these days. In the meantime, explore a new option and try something new. You may be pleasantly surprised. Much of the comments and feedback I’ve heard so far have been from people that prefer the “in-person” handshake approach to business building. Well, my friends, we all do. If the current travel restrictions are still in place by fall, and you haven’t taken an hour to test out a new way to attend, you may miss out on a great opportunity to meet with people.