In pre-COVID times, we met face-to-face. The events were presumed to be a professional environment within a social context. The rules of engagement were clear.

I continue to be dumbfounded by how many professionals show up for virtual events under-dressed, or with their pets, or chewing on pizza, or walking on a treadmill. Worse than that are the people who attend an event with their camera off, or are visibly working on other matters without even pretending to care about what’s going on.

It’s insulting to organizers and presenters when participants don’t engage. It also sends a negative perception of your professionalism, whether you intended it or not.

Here are five guidelines for attending virtual events

1. Prepare

Just as you would take time to review the agenda for an in-person event, invest a few moments prior to signing in to acclimatize yourself with an overview of the event. You will be more comfortable with the experience.

2. Dress for success

Meeting online may allow you to wear pyjama bottoms, but what we see still matters, a lot. Presenting a professional image has even more impact online. You never know who else will be there.

3. Be there

If you committed to attend, you have an obligation to be present. That means being on screen and attentive. If you don’t, others notice and will think less of you. Besides, you may even learn something.

4. Play nice

Be a team player. Participate, contribute and support without seeking to take over. It’s great to have an opinion, but there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Don’t be that person.

5. Say thank you.

Whether you were the organizer, presenter or participant, find one positive item about the event and take the time to send a quick follow up note with thanks for their contribution. It matters.

BONUS: Skip it. I keep hearing about virtual meeting fatigue. If you’re not in the mood, don’t go. If you have to attend, suck it up, Buttercup. The bottom line is that networking works best when you’re enjoying it.

Source: Michael J. Hughes