A quick guide to virtual networking

What happens when a virtual language industry conference meets a 3D online gaming experience? From 13 to 15 October 2021, the Meet Central Europe 21 Conference presents an innovative approach to a more personal networking experience online. EnglishBusiness’ Marlen Schrader is an ambassador to the event; she tells us why networking in a virtual environment can be as rewarding as the real-life experience. 

During the pandemic, we have all grown accustomed to attending webinars, video calls and virtual conferences instead of meeting in person and travelling to conferences. 

Most of these formats work well for sharing knowledge, but networking proves more difficult in a virtual setting. Meeting new people or bumping into old friends while getting coffee is an essential part of networking events, and it’s hard to replicate that online. 

Even with breakout rooms and scheduled one-on-one meetings, the social interaction feels a bit more distant, and serendipitously meeting your next client or business partner seems less likely. 

As one of Europe’s leading language industry events, the Meet Central Europe Conference takes virtual events to a new level. Instead of taking us to virtual conference rooms or chat rooms that simulate pretty reception halls, MCE21 takes things one step further and invites us all to join the World’s first conference on Mars. Yes, you read that right – going to Mars has become a reality for all of us, not just the Mars rovers.   

The language industry meets online gaming and science fiction

MCE21 takes place in a virtual world that reminds me of a ‘90s computer game. It comes with a main stage, several booths, a job fair dedicated to freelance linguists, and plenty of chat zones to engage with other MartiansConfer-O-Matic, the technical minds behind this virtual world, are dedicated to creating 3D virtual spaces for business and public events.  

Even if you’re not a gamer at heart, being able to walk and fly around the conference world, passing other avatars and being able to spontaneously join their conversation in a chat zone is a big difference from just clicking on a breakout room or speed typing in chat rooms. 

Video calls between participants start automatically in dedicated chat zones so you’re not just speaking to an avatar, but are able to connect faces and names. 

Interacting through avatars

The avatars range from wearers of classic business attire to aliens and space police officers. Each avatar has a set of moves to enhance interactionYou can give a round of applause or smile and wave at someone; there are even various dance moves that come in handy at the after-show party. That’s rightthere will be after-show parties with lots of dancing, networking opportunities and good music. 

How to get the most out of networking at a three-day virtual conference

  • Give yourself time to set up 

    Schedule time to install and test the program before the event starts. A 3D virtual world with several hundred attendants requires elaborate software and there are bound to be updates shortly before the conference starts. 

  • Join the practice round

     If there is a guided tour or pre-conference sneak peak, attend it! You’ll get detailed insights and lots of beneficial tips and tricks. You don’t want to start your conference struggling with technology. 

  • Don’t worry, everyone walks into virtual Mars rovers

    Don’t be frustrated by little mishaps, it happens to everyone (I am speaking from first-hand experience here). Just reach out to the people around you via the chat box and ask for assistance.  

  • Connect with the MCE21 Ambassadors 

    The MCE21 Ambassadors are here to help you make the most out of the conference. They know all the tips and tricks, can help you find the people you want to connect with, and will take you to some insider spots.  

  • Try all the features 

    It might sound silly at first to have your avatar wave at people or dance around, but you wouldn’t shy away from waving to someone at a real-life conference or applauding after a great talk.  All those features are available and using them will make your conference experience much better.  

  • Say hi to strangers!

    Don’t be shy! If you send a chat message to the wrong person, you have a chance to make a new contact. You would start a conversation with a stranger in a real-world conference setting, so why not do the same in a virtual world? 

  • Don’t miss out on the after-show party 

    It comes without saying that sharing a glass of wine with friends or strangers at the bar after a long day of learning is a treat well-earned. There’s no reason to not have the same experience in a virtual world. So, put on your dancing shoes, grab something to drink and join us for some good music, fun dancing, and lots of interesting conversations at the after-show party. If you fancy more festive attire, just change your avatar to match your mood and start floating from one chat zone to the other. And the best part? No need to take a cab home.

Next steps

If you haven’t signed up for MCE21 just yet, there’s still plenty of time. Check out the conference agenda to learn more and sign up hereMake sure to use the code MCE21_CREW for a 10% discount.  

You want to organise your own event or workshop? EnglishBusiness has years of experience with facilitating networking and teambuilding events, so get in touch and find out how we can help you! 

This post was written by

Marlen Schrader

Marlen Schrader

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