Navigating Virtual Events – CMS Webinar

Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting on the panel of a CMS webinar titled “How to Navigate a Virtual Event”, alongside my colleagues Akil Hunte and Idin Sabahipour. This was a particularly busy webinar because with many events now moving online (firm open days, law fairs, employer presentations etc.), it’s important for you to be able to get the most out of your time in the virtual event, and as much as you would in a ‘physical’ event. If you weren’t able to attend the webinar, this blog will provide you with a summary of what we covered in the webinar!

Some quick advice from the Early Talent Acquisition (ETA) team at CMS

The ETA team started with some quick advice – you want to avoid being “Under-researched Ursula” and “Over-eager Edgar”! Firstly, “Under-researched Ursula” asks questions that can easily be found online and might ask a corporate firm what they do in their family law department. This shows you have not done any research on the firm running the event and is to be avoided!

On the other end of the scale, you must also avoid being an “Over-eager Edgar”. Be considerate to that fact there may be lots attendees in a webinar and there may be lots of questions. Try not to ask questions that use up too much of the time, which then means that no-one else has a chance to ask questions!

**The ETA team did apologise if any of the attendees are named Ursula or Edgar – names for demonstration purposes only!

Preparing for a virtual event

To kick us off in this webinar, current CMS trainee Idin discussed how to prepare for a virtual event to be able to get the most out of your time during the event:

  1. Develop, don’t discover
    • There is so much information out there about a firm and its programmes, so don’t be under-researched going into a virtual event
    • Things to research include the topic, the firm and the speakers
  2. Be present
    • There is a key difference between an online live event and a video recording
    • There is much more interaction in an online live event – for example, you can ask questions!
    • Avoid distractions
    • Be prepared to talk in a virtual event
  3. Technology
    • Technology might fail you, so make sure you have back-up options
    • For example, using your phone’s mobile hotspot (if you have this) when your WiFi fails

Engaging in a new environment

I discussed engaging in a new environment, that is, the virtual environment and how to get the most out of a virtual event. It can be daunting attending a virtual event where there are hundreds of attendees and finding the right time to speak up/say the right things to stand out from the crowd. Here are my top tips:

  1. Mimic a work environment/set up
    • In the same way that many students say they can’t study at home and have to study in the library, you will be the most effective when you mimic an office or work set up at home
    • This means sitting at a desk/table, having some water at your side, pen & paper
    • Even though your audio and video may be off during a virtual event, avoid the temptation to stay in pyjamas and do the event from your bed!
  2. Taking efficient notes
    • Don’t copy down everything that the speaker is saying – only note down key points like dates, facts and main takeaway points
    • Consider what each panellist is trying to tell you and then what the more detailed points are
    • A good way to take notes may be to use a mind-map per topic
  3. Asking questions
    • Asking questions is a good way to stand out from the crowd, but this comes with a caveat – you want to stand out for asking good questions, not irrelevant/inappropriate questions!
    • When you are asking a question, direct it at a specific person (but making sure they are the most appropriate person to ask that question to)
    • BE SPECIFIC – a basic question would be “what do you think about the culture at Firm X?”, whereas a much better question would be “Firm X promotes a collaborative and supportive culture, could you please tell us a little bit more about this culture and your experience at Firm X?”
    • The more specific you are with your question, the better and more detailed answer you’re going to receive

I also covered the things that you should avoid in any virtual event:

  • Answers to questions which can easily be found elsewhere (e.g. answers which a quick Google search could tell you)
  • Questions irrelevant to the webinar topic/theme
  • Questions already asked in the chat box
  • External surrounding distractions, if possible
  • Drifting off (linking back to Idin’s point – be present!)

Post-event networking

Finally, Akil discussed what to do after attending a virtual event and how to network:

  1. Recap
    • Think about the information you’ve been given during the virtual event – what have you learned?
    • What did you gain from the virtual event?
  2. Say thanks
    • There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes of any virtual event
    • Saying thanks to the organisers, tech team and speakers is polite and shows your appreciation for them taking time out of their day to host the virtual event
    • Be specific about what you’re saying thanks for and what you’re grateful for – link it to what you’ve learned/gained from the event
  3. Post about it
    • Posting about the event on LinkedIn is a great way to network
    • It also allow you to stay in contact with the speakers/team
    • This is also an opportunity for you to network with other attendees of the virtual event
  4. Follow up with questions
    • You can follow up with the speakers with further questions (perhaps there wasn’t time to ask all your questions)
    • Make sure your questions are well researched and show you are genuinely interested in learning more
  5. View the virtual event as the start, not the end of the process
    • Attending the virtual event is only the start of the process – if you don’t follow up, don’t carry out further research or stop looking for more opportunities, the information you’ve gained becomes redundant
    • View each event as a stepping stone to becoming a stronger candidate
    • Keep learning!

Thanks for attending/reading

For those that attended this webinar, I have been blown away by your lovely LinkedIn messages and thank you posts – thank you so much for your attendance and support. If you weren’t able to attend the event, I hope this blog has given you an insight into what was covered in the webinar and that you’ve found our tips useful!

Happy to be contacted if you have any further questions!

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