Optimizing Your Virtual Conference Experience

The trend toward virtual conferences was already growing, but circumstances in 2020 have pushed the transition to a necessity. While in-person conferences are valuable, companies are seeing the benefits of going virtual; ease of accessibility, eco-friendly, and the minimal costs associated with attending.   

Attending a virtual conference does have its challenges. 

With a little insight and preparation, you can still get all the amazing information from the comfort of your office or living room, at a fraction of the cost. Follow these tips to make the most of your time.

Be an Active Participant. Block out the time on your calendar. Commit to being truly present for the experience. Use chat and other networking tools to connect with other attendees and participate in the sessions and with the presenters. The contacts you make at a virtual event become stronger when you do meet in-person at another event. Someone once gave me this advice; I use it to motivate myself when attending meetings or webinars. ‘One important way you can distinguish “high performing people” from “lower-performing people” is their ability to extract more meaning from the same exact data set.’

Be Selective. Virtual conferences are an inexpensive way to learn from the best in the industry without having to be away from your family or business. Try to choose topics and sessions that relate to what you want to learn right now. There is no need to feel guilty about not attending every meeting or breakout session. It is easier to commit the time if you feel you are getting valuable benefits from it. 

Prepare Your Attitude. Remove the idea that online learning is “second best” compared to being in a face-to-face environment. Research shows that is not true. As with any other learning situation, the responsibility for success falls to the learner.  

Have a Plan. Review the schedule, write down three to four objectives you want to achieve from the event, and pay attention that you are making progress towards them throughout the event.

Share the Wealth. Enlist your employees to attend sessions. Have staff meetings for everyone to present what they have learned. 

Allowing your team to be involved and learn directly from the experts boosts team morale and improves accountability. 

Take Notes. Write it down. Do not rely on screenshots or getting a copy of the presentation later. Note-taking is one of the most effective learning tools you have.

Curb Your Distractions. It is hard to be focused sitting in front of your computer screen by yourself rather than surrounded by other attendees in a conference hall. Turn off social media, try to limit distractions, and be mindful not to ‘multi-task’. If you can, attend as many sessions as you can live.  

Learn the app. Familiarize yourself with the platform and features for the conference. Get comfortable with how to communicate with other attendees, the Q&A functionality, and any other capabilities it may have.  

Replay and Review. One big benefit of virtual conferences is the ability to play and replay sessions. You can access sessions you weren’t able to attend live and review any previously viewed sessions. Be sure to take notes, as sessions are usually available for a limited time.  

Visit with the Vendors. Exhibitors are one of your best resources. We can be extremely helpful in providing information about changes in regulations, updates in technology, or insight into emerging trends. 

While the circumstances currently driving events online might be temporary, the movement towards digital events probably isn’t. Investing the time to maximize your experience will only benefit your career and your business.

Lynn Wise is the Founder and CEO of Contractor in Charge.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area!

Service Nation, Inc. Receives the Prestigious Aggie 100 Award

Aggie 100 honors the 100 fastest growing Aggie-owned or Aggie-led businesses in the world.

The 14th annual Aggie 100 named and awarded Service Nation, Inc. as the 54th fastest growing company in 2018. Service Nation President Matt Michel and Controller Kyle Scott were recognized at the ceremony and Kyle accepted the award on behalf of Service Nation.

Mays Business School’s McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship created the Aggie 100 to identify and celebrate the success of Aggie alumnus as well as educate and inspire current students. Companies must be nominated and be in business for over five years, with verifiable revenues of $250,000 or more. “It is an honor to be recognized by the Aggie 100 for our achievements and business growth,” said President of Service Nation and Texas A&M Alum, Matt Michel. “Our mission at Service Nation has always been to inspire and support the entrepreneurial spirit of residential contractors who aim to better their businesses through our training, education, and mentorship programs.”

Service Nation, Inc. was founded in 2002 to share knowledge and help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. Today, Service Nation has over 5,000 members across the United States, Canada, and Australia. “Service Nation has changed my life,” said Chris Hunter, Service Nation member. “Before I joined Service Nation, I didn’t really understand what I was doing from a business sense. I knew how to repair HVAC units but not how to run a profitable business. The people, tools, and resources Service Nation offers have allowed me to build the business I have always dreamed of.”

“What an honor to share a room with such incredible caliber of business leaders and people in general,” said Kyle Scott, Controller for Service Nation. “When they flashed total revenues of over $5 billion represented, wow, I mean whoop! Great to be back in Aggieland! Big thanks to Matt for giving me the opportunity to experience it and represent the company.”

About Service Nation:
Service Nation, Inc., is the world’s largest private contractor group, dedicated to providing residential service contractors with an affordable means to drive new business and generate higher sales.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Kiley Widmann at 469.293.8842 or email at: Kiley.Widmann@ServiceRoundtable.com.


Nine Guaranteed Takeaways From Service World Expo

By Matt Michel

Are you vacillating about Service World? Do you wonder if it’s worth it? Do you think you cannot afford the cost or time away from the shop? Here are nine takeaways you will benefit from if you attend Service World.

  1. You will learn something unexpected that will change your business or your life.

Whenever I attend a conference, seminar, or trade show, I find myself, my business, or both changed. It used to surprise me. At the end of the event, I would find myself pondering the unexpected something I learned and realize that the event was totally worth it just for that one nugget.

I don’t know what your unexpected nugget will be. I just know that you will come across one or more. I no longer doubt. I will go to Service World expecting to learn something unexpected that will make a big impact and I will.


  1. You will learn new industry best practices by the sharpest residential/light commercial contractors in the world.

Service World is like the Navy’s Top Gun School for contractors. The best of the best will be there. True, there will be a great contractor here and there who won’t attend, but more top contractors will be crowded into one space at Service World than anywhere else this entire year.

These are the best because they execute well. Execution is the difference between being good and being great. However, they do more than execute well. They push the envelope. They try new things. They create the new best practices that supplant the old way of doing things because they are superior.  These contractors come to Service World to share what they’ve learned and to pick the brains of other top contractors. When you come to Service World you will get a chance to learn the new best practices years before your competitors even realize they are out there.


  1. You will return to the shop refreshed, recharged, and remotivated.

It’s not easy doing what you do. Your opportunities are other people’s problems. They don’t think of them as opportunities and get snippy if they think that’s how you see them. They just want the problems to get fixed right, fast, and affordably. Since most contracting solutions can be any two of:  good, quick, and cheap, your customers can get a tad grouchy when they discover they cannot have it all. Thus, the more opportunities you get, the more beat up you start to feel. Service World can change all of that.

There is an outstanding line up of top motivational speakers. These speakers are not cheap because they are at the top of their game. Fellow contractors speaking will also motivate, as will consultants and exhibitors. Zig Ziglar said motivation is like taking a shower. It wears off, so you need repeat treatments regularly.

Plus, there’s something downright therapeutic about talking with other contractors who face the same challenges you face. It’s even better when they faced and overcame the problems you’re wrestling with. In “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey’s last habit was “sharpening the saw” by taking time away from the day-to-day to rejuvenate yourself. Take time to sharpen your personal saw at Service World. You will return refreshed and ready to take on the world again.


  1. You will find products and services that solve unmet needs.

Contractor Ken Goodrich used to post in the Service Roundtable how much money he made from attending Service Roundtable meetings because of a new product or service he discovered. Inevitably, someone would challenge his figure because it seemed so preposterous. Ken would be ready, sharing his calculations. His logic was well reasoned and the point was made. There are plenty of opportunities for an excellent, near term return on your attendance investment if you will just spend time on the show floor and be open to what the different exhibitors are offering.

Exhibitors make substantive investments to come to Service World. Do you know why? It’s because they believe they have products and services that can help contractors’ businesses and that the case for their products and services is powerful and compelling. They believe enough contractors will recognize the opportunity and start buying to make the investment in the show is covered by the gross profit from their new sales. Think about that for a second. Odds are that there is something really good you will want to learn about in the exhibit hall.


  1. You will find products and services that will save you time, money, and aggravation over what you buy today.

Contracting Business Hall of Fame member Steve Saunders says that when he goes to a trade show, he treats it as a series of mini-seminars. Saunders stops by each booth and asks the exhibitor how he or she can help his business. It is amazing what you can learn.

All contractors struggle with the shortage of labor. All contractors want to make the phone ring. All contractors are trying to figure out how to survive in the world of Google, Amazon, and your friendly utility monopoly. All contractors want to motivate their people. All contractors offer some form of training. All contractors feel saddled with excessive amounts of inventory. All contractors have overhead. All contractors want to boost marketing conversion and sales close rates. All contractors have fleets of expensive vehicles that must stay on the road to make the company money. All contractors hate government paperwork, regulations, and red tape. All contractors have too few hours every day.

This is not news. You know it. I know it. Every exhibitor knows it. But while you are working on a multiplicity of problems, there will be exhibitors who focus on just one or two. And, they get really, really good in their area of expertise. These specialists can make your life easier, more profitable, and free up time for important things (like fishing).


  1. You demonstrate to your team the importance of training.

Do you tell your team that training is important? You should.  It is. Yet, even if you stress its importance, do you demonstrate it? Do you walk your talk? Moreover, do you truly believe that training is important? If you do, you will come to Service World.

The best way to get a technician or plumber to sell a new product is to put one in the tech’s or plumber’s home. Once they experience it, they understand the benefits and become much more effective communicating those benefits to your customers. When you come to Service World, you become better at convincing your team of the need for training in your shop.


  1. You will have networking opportunities with the best contractors and consultants in the industry.

In addition to the seminars, the breaks, and the show, Service World has networking time built in and encourages it. There are after hour events where the atmosphere is relaxed and conducive to meeting new people. Even if you’re shy and networking is not your strength, there are enough contractors and consultants present who are the opposite to guarantee you will make new friends and new connections, who can help your business throughout the year.

Canadian contractor, Joe Gerolami posted a message on Facebook asking for people to share how they met him. I was stunned at the number of people who met Joe at a contractor meeting. Joe is certainly not shy, but neither is he a guy who enters a room and calculates how much time he can spend with each person if he wants to shake hands with everyone. You will make connections. Moreover, you will make connections across the United States, Canada, and Australia.


  1. You don’t know what you don’t know.

People ask me what they will learn at Service World. I don’t know. But I know they will learn something to make it worthwhile.

I never know what I’m going to learn at a conference or trade show. If I knew, I might not attend. I go because I don’t know what I don’t know. As a curious person, I’m compelled to find out. This is why I’ve gone to and continue to attend industry trade shows in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. I don’t know what I don’t know and I want to find out what that is.

Today, it’s more important than ever to discover what you do not know. Because of the Internet, the world seems to be changing all around us every day. You have to keep up. You have to stay on top of it.  Sometimes the only way to know what to pay attention to is to attend an event like Service World where there will be thoughtful people who have waded through the sea of noise and identified the real threats and opportunities that can affect your business going forward.


  1. You will have fun.

Finally, you will have fun. It’s fun to hang out with other contractors and industry leaders. It’s fun to be in Las Vegas. Even if you don’t gamble (I don’t), there are fun things to do. I like Red Rock Canyon, Valley of the Fire, Mt Charleston, and the Lee Canyon Ski Area. If you do not have fun… well, it’s your own fault. After all, it’s Vegas baby!


You can register for Service World Expo 2018 by following the link to the Service World Expo homepage. You will be asked to list information such as name, company, title, area, etc. You can also add other attendees and finish with summary and billing. Once registered, download our Service World Expo app where you can explore, play our game to win the Augustus suite, and schedule meetings with consultants, other attendees, and exhibitors. This opportunity is too good to miss! We’ll see you in Las Vegas!