Like so many organizations, Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) has opted to host its Expo 2020 on a virtual platform. Attendees and exhibitors can expect to experience all the major components of past Expos, including education, networking opportunities and access to resources that support business growth in the textile industry.
“We’ve been working very hard to offer Expo attendees opportunities to learn about trends, visit with exhibitors and get answers to their business concerns,” says Aaron Monson, IFAI manager of education and events. “Virtual doesn’t mean boring. We have 25 hours of relevant education spaced over 10 days. Exhibitor hours will be spread over 10 days as well. This digital platform will give attendees the flexibility to take full advantage of Expo offerings. We’ll also be hosting our second annual 5K Fun Run/Walk in a new way. Don’t miss this fun opportunity for a self-guided workout.”
Monson offers five tips to make the most of Virtual Expo 2020.
1. Log in early and get familiar with the virtual platform. Once you are registered, we recommend that you log in at least a day before the event and look around the site. This will help you familiarize yourself with the different areas. You can also log into a demo site to click around and familiarize yourself with the platform’s functionality. The site includes a lobby, webcast auditorium, networking lounge and exhibit hall where you explore booths and chat directly to company employees during designated hours.
2. Plan your time and block off your schedule in your calendar. Attendees of virtual events report that they get more out of their experience when they are clear about their goals and what they want to accomplish at the conference. Study the schedule and make a plan for what presentations you want to attend and what companies you want to visit. A 2020 Expo Guide will be mailed to the first 3,000 attendees before the event to help with planning. It will also be available online.
3. Coordinate your activities with your coworkers. Just like a live event, attendees of virtual events say it is helpful to communicate their plans with colleagues so the team can maximize their efforts. If you are working from home, as so many of us are, it can be helpful to let your household members know you will be engaged in online chatting and education during certain hours.
4. Network with other industry professionals. Chat opportunities are available in each area of the event, as well as at each exhibitor booth. You can chat to everyone in the room using text, or have private one-on-one texts, audio or video chat. You can even share virtual business cards. There are many built-in efficiencies in this virtual event that you will come to appreciate.
5. Take notes and make follow-up reminders for yourself. Treat this virtual event like a live event. Figure out what you want to follow up on and check it against the goals list you made earlier.
“We’re all learning what the new normal is,” says Monson, “but IFAI specifically chose an engaging virtual platform for Expo 2020. COVID-19 has changed everything, that’s for certain, but our industry has been at the forefront at preventing infections, and we believe Virtual Expo 2020 will offer many great solutions to textile experts.”