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    Events everywhere have been shifting to virtual platforms amid the coronavirus crisis — and the real estate industry is no different. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) recently announced that this year’s annual conference & expo will be held in a fully-online format, citing health concerns.

    If you’re planning on attending the 2020 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in November, it’s important to realize that being part of a virtual seminar is a different experience than going to one in person.

    With that in mind, we have some tips. Read on below to learn more.

    5 ways to get the most out of attending a virtual seminar

    1. Make sure you have the right equipment beforehand

    Attending a virtual seminar or conference doesn’t usually require having a technical set-up that’s too complicated, but you’ll still need certain items to be able to fully participate in the event.

    In general, you can expect to need to have the following:

    • A computer with a stable internet connection
    • Working speakers
    • A functioning microphone
    • Access to whichever video conferencing platform the conference is using

    Luckily, these days, most modern laptops come with the hardware elements built in. However, if you have concerns about whether your current set-up will be suitable for the conference, don’t hesitate to reach out to their technical support a few days in advance of the event so you can make sure that you’ll be ready to participate.

    2. Clear your schedule — and your environment — on the big day

    Once you’ve got the technical aspects of the conference under control, the next step is to prepare your schedule. Just like if you were attending the conference in person, you’re going to want the online event to be your main focus for as long as it lasts.

    With that in mind, do your best to clear your schedule of other commitments for the length of the conference. You’ll also want to try and set yourself up in an area of the house that will be relatively free of distractions.

    Then, it’s up to you to do your best to stay focused on the event. While it may be tempting to try and multitask to keep up with your duties at work and at home while you’re attending the seminar, if you go that route, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice.

    3. Take notes

    If you struggle to stay focused on long video conferences, one way to stay engaged is to take notes during the various seminars or break-out sessions that you attend. Studies have shown that when you take notes, especially when they are taken by hand, you are more likely to retain the information for later use.

    In light of that, have something on-hand that will allow you to take notes during any virtual events that you attend. Even if you simply jot down broad topics or key points to remember, your notes will give you a basis for recall when you look back at them later on down the road.

    4. Don’t be afraid to engage with the speakers and other attendees

    Attending an online conference is about more than just watching several video conferences for hours on end. Rather, it should be a place where you have the opportunity to network with others and to important questions.

    Most video conferencing platforms come enabled with a feature that allows you to ask questions of the presenter and to chat with the other attendees. It’s in your best interest to find these features on your platform and to use them to the best of your ability.

    By this, we mean making sure to (virtually) raise your hand and get your questions answered. Along with that, use the chat section to converse with the other conference attendees. Doing so will help you feel more like you’re attending a conference with your peers rather than just sitting at home in front of the computer.

    5. Look for a recording package

    Lastly, look for a recording package. Most conferences offer access to recordings of their seminars and break-out sessions, usually for an added fee. If you can afford it, it’s might be worth investing in this package to have continuing access to everything that was discussed.

    That way, if you do end up getting distracted by the kids or an important phone call while the conference is going on, you’ll have the ability to go back and replay whatever it is that you’ve missed. You’ll also be able to revisit the information at various points in your career to see how it impacts you differently as you grow.

    The bottom line about virtual conferences

    While no one expected coronavirus to change our way of life so substantially, NAR and other conference events have had to make changes to the way they run their events for the safety of their attendees. Use the tips above to help you get the most out of any time spent attending a virtual conference.

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