America's SBDC Virtual Conference Sept 29-30, 2020

 Today is the first day of the ASBDC annual conference, held virtually this year due to COVID-19 but still with a lot of great sponsors and content. America's SBDC is the association that represents America's nationwide network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs).

This will be my first virtual conference but I imagine it will be the state of affairs for the foreseeable future. In this case, it means more people are able to "attend" which is a good thing. It will be interesting to see how this event turns out. 

The trade show aspect of a conference is tricky since it is awkward enough (to me) in person. Creating a virtual 'booth' is more challenging when trying to hold an attendee's attention. There are videos and chats and some useful materials but I think for brands that really want to wow, they will have to break out of the chat or zoom box and add something more. Maybe they can borrow something from the TikTok generation to liven up and add a little informality to these kinds of events. I believe that there will be more entertainment and education woven into our virtual lives. 

Companies are coming to the fore who can package conferences  - while using Zoom and other well-known tools make the meetings possible, these platforms are not enough to create a conference experience. They seem to specialize in the business aspect of planning and executing an event from booking and ticket sales to promotional gear and scheduling.  

Approximating the in-person event can't be easy. The networking, the sense of discovery, and creating a sense of camaraderie require a more human touch. Perhaps the conference post-2020 will be a multimedia event, with the talents of web designers and app developers, graphic designers, and other creative types in addition to the business minds. Think Ted Talk and evening talk show.

 America's SBDC Virtual Conference

One other advantage of the virtual conference is that materials will have a much longer shelf life. Videos, webinars, and downloads will document the event and be available to attendees for months after the conference. Ultimately, 2020 will prove necessity will be the mother of invention.

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