Screen fatigue — it’s a very real thing these days and many (maybe even most) people around the world are experiencing it right now. When you’re experiencing screen fatigue the natural response is to cut out any unnecessary screen time and for many professionals, this means booking fewer meetings and attending fewer events. We’re making the case that, even though you might be experiencing screen fatigue (or just general fatigue…) as a clean technology professional, partner, or investor, making the time to attend virtual events whenever possible is critically important to your business development goals during the global health crisis and beyond.
Find New Opportunities Online
Webinars, panel discussions, virtual trade missions, and other types of information-sharing events play an important role in helping you and your colleagues discover and develop new opportunities. These opportunities could take the form of new knowledge relating to potential customer needs, funding, or investor connections, as well as keeping up with industry-related dialogues, potential partners, and collaborators. Although networking in the digital world is a bit more cumbersome than in-person connections, the chance to hear about and pursue new opportunities is still very beneficial for cleantech entrepreneurs looking to scale up their company or solution.
Get Energy from Meaningful Interaction
Though you might feel like you’re too tired to attend a virtual event, virtual events often provide an energy return that may be unexpected. It can be truly exciting and inspiring to learn about a new topic, hear from an expert, and realize how much is still going on out in the world (despite COVID-19). New ideas can be ignited, new relationships can be developed, and the online connections made can become just as valuable as the in-person coffee or post-conference chat. In essence, the insights and energy you can gain from meaningful and interesting interaction online can actually help combat screen fatigue, while also helping you grow your business.
Cut Down on Commuting to Conferences
What virtual events may lack in ease of networking is made up for by what they offer in terms of money, time, and emissions saved. Although attending in-person events is still something that will be important to future business development, it is also expensive, time consuming, and often not very environmentally friendly (especially if the conference or event involves transoceanic flights for you and your team). The vast adoption of virtual event hosting globally has suddenly provided the unique opportunity for many people and businesses to virtually attend events, still benefiting business development, but at no extra cost to the environment. Perhaps this trend will continue even post-pandemic, especially as software tools continue being developed and more of the clean tech sector becomes open to international markets and global opportunities.
Have a Finger on the Global Pulse
Virtual events give you and your company an opportunity to see what other players in your industry are up to and to hear about solutions or strategies that you might not have yet considered from a new or more global perspective. Given that the entire world is working to navigate these circumstances that are unprecedented in most of our lifetimes, this sort of practical problem awareness and solving can help you stay competitive and set you up to succeed in the pandemic’s recovery phase.
Because virtual events make it easier for attendees to join from far flung corners of the globe and from strange time zones, the breadth of information and knowledge that can now be accessed is different than before. Moreover, because of this new degree of accessibility (sometimes even on-demand), the pool of attendees at any given event can be much more dynamic and diverse. This diversity of participants can massively improve the quality and substance of Q&A sessions and inter-personal event interactions as new types of people bring new information, knowledge, questions, and perspectives that can push you to see your job, business, or industry in a different light.
Keep Up with the Competition
The move to virtual meetings, trade shows, and conferences has caused disruption across industries, but has also forced stakeholders across sectors to adapt quickly. Some companies may have been able to make the shift more smoothly, meaning that it’s very likely your competitors are still having important conversations with potential customers in this new virtual setting. Keep that in mind when looking at a virtual calendar of events and make sure to represent your company or solution at the ones that are most relevant and helpful to growing your company. If your competitors are there, you definitely should be too.
Bonus: Plan Your Own Cleantech Virtual Event
One additional benefit of the online world is that it provides a perfect opportunity to get creative and plan your own virtual event! Use this avenue to invite potential or current customers, organize a panel discussion with leadership in your organization and expertise in your sector, or showcase a part of your technology to an online audience. Using virtual tools and following best practices can make it easy to set up and pull together an informative event, even with limited resources. Leaning on your existing network and reaching out to new contacts to share their knowledge and experience can also be a great way to (re)ignite connections and spend time engaging with the people that can guide your company’s further growth and development. It also allows you to collect contact information from a highly relevant audience for future outreach.
Business Development Done Virtually
Whether you choose to attend just a few select events yourself as a leader in your organizations or you share the responsibility among your team members, participating in virtual conferences, trade shows, panel discussions, pitch competitions, webinars, and other online events has quickly become the key way to stay in touch with your industry and find new inspiration during the pandemic. This will continue to be the trend as long as regular in-person events aren’t allowed and perhaps some events will continue to be virtual even once we are able to gather face-to-face for meetings and industry events again. It’s best to adapt at least a portion of your business development strategy to include virtual settings that can lead to the same quality connections as that yearly in-person trade show or cleantech conference did.