Do you remember your first digital conference? Logging on, learning how to navigate the various platforms, and talking business over a webcam. Back then you may have thought this was just a temporary fix and that by now we would be back to enjoying face to face meetings, complementary finger foods, and exploring beautiful cities. However, even with hybrid conferences coming up, many of us will still be taking part digitally. So, it is high time to master the art of staying human in this digital world in preparation for this fall’s BIO-Europe®, October 25–28, 2021.
Starting from the top, the crucial part of your BIO-Europe meetings, organizing them! Unlike face-to-face conferences where you could bump into a new partner or client and start talking around the buffet, in the digital world we must diligently contact companies beforehand. Whilst this can be a seemingly daunting task that will likely result in a few rejections, finessing the art of personalising the initial message can prove to be the deal maker. Luckily, EBD Group’s partneringONE® system makes sending the first message easy. But it is crucially important to get that first message right. Whilst copy and paste is a great tool to have under your belt, it is best left at the dressing-room door on this outing. No one likes receiving spam emails, just as no one likes receiving automated ‘copy-and-pasted’ invites to meetings, which will be filtered out in a similar fashion. To overcome this, careful, but efficient, research is important.
At the simplest end, addressing the person attending by name, correctly spelt, is a good start. From there it is about personalising the message to show you have an interest in the company, that you have briefly scanned the corporate website and you believe your business needs will be a good match. This can be congratulating them on a recent piece of news or highlighting your experience in their industry. Small touches can make the world of difference. No one wants to join a partnering meeting to discover it is a robot speaking at the other end, so reassure them you are most certainly not!
Next, to the meeting itself. Whilst the temptation may be to jump straight into business for efficiencies sake, do not forget the importance of human connection in building partnerships in a digital age. Finding common interests, discovering the town or city they are calling from, and establishing a good relationship is vital and not something to be compromised. Ensure when you start the meeting (and ensure you aren’t on mute!) you get to know who you’re meeting with. It is a small world, and you never know what common connection you might find through a bit of light conversation to begin with. This approach will definitely make you more memorable and hopefully more successful.
Aside from meetings, there is a great array of panels to engage with this year's BIO-Europe. Engage is the operative word here. It is so easy to have a panel on one screen whilst you type away on a document on a second screen and check your emails on a third. Whilst the multiple screen luxury has become something you may have come to adore, do not let it distract you from the task in hand: learning more about an interesting topic and engaging with panelists, whether this be asking questions or following up afterwards. Showing interest in panels, taking notes, engaging with panelists not only teaches you something you might not have known, but gives you some great points for later discussion. You do remember how to do small talk, right?
And the most important part of staying human in a digital world? Take breaks! You are not a robot. You are not programmed to work efficiently 24/7. You can only get so far with caffeine and chocolate. Block out some slots in your partneringONE calendar and go for a short walk, chat to a colleague, or join a BIO-Europe virtual exercise class. You will maintain better productivity and concentration for when you really need it. And enjoy yourself! BIO-Europe is a great chance to e-meet some new faces. And if you’re really missing the finger foods, cut your lunchtime sandwiches up into a few pieces and just pretend!