Black Hat was the first in-person conference we planned to attend as an agency since RSA in February of 2020. It felt like things were getting somewhat back to normal and we were both excited and apprehensive. As it turns out, we were right to feel apprehensive. The Delta variant began to surge throughout the United States in the weeks ahead of Black Hat. Las Vegas was identified as a hot spot, and ultimately, we decided to attend the conference virtually (like so many others over the past 18 months). Here are five things I learned while pitching at Black Hat:

1.     Prepare for the unexpected— If there’s anything I’ve taken away from the last year-and-a-half, it’s to always have a backup plan. While we were excited to attend the conference in person, we also had a contingency plan in case we were unable to do so. When we were making our travel arrangements, we made sure that our hotel rooms and flights were fully refundable in the event we needed to cancel. Many businesses are still making accommodations for COVID-19, so be sure to research your options ahead of time.

2.     Be flexible—Even though our company was planning on attending in person, we knew many other companies might plan to only attend virtually. When pitching, we offered the option to meet in-person or virtually, and as it turned out, 99% of our contacts replied stating they were not planning to attend in-person. This meant that all our meetings would take place virtually, and we’d need to fall back on that contingency plan that I referenced earlier.

3.     Capitalize on the virtual opportunity—Many of us are excited for things to return to how they were pre-pandemic, and the hype of Zoom meetings has long since worn off. However, meeting virtually has a ton of advantages. While our company is based in the US, many of the companies that fall into our target market are not. The pandemic has made making connections abroad much more accessible, so consider widening your audience when pitching. Zoom meetings have become a standard practice for many companies and hopping on a call with someone on the other side of the world is easier than ever.

4.     Business is returning to a new normal—At the start of the pandemic, many companies were in fight or flight mode. Our world drastically changed and as a result, many companies were preserving their resources. Over the last six months or so, the landscape has changed and we’re seeing companies returning to a new normal. With the news cycle no longer dominated by the pandemic, many companies are launching new products or initiatives that were previously put on hold. While things may never return to how they once were, we are seeing many organizations embrace this new normal and forge ahead.

5.     Your digital presence is more important than ever—With so many things taking place virtually for the foreseeable future, it would be remiss for me to skip over this point. Your company’s virtual footprint is more important than ever. It’s time to ask yourself some hard questions, such as: is your website up to date? What about your LinkedIn profile? Do you have an updated headshot? Are you sharing your company’s updates regularly? How are people finding you or your company online? What types of digital advertising are you investing in?

These questions really just skim the surface, but I plan to address them more in-depth in a future post, so be sure to follow Voxus on Twitter or LinkedIn to stay in the loop. And, while the pandemic is far from over, things are returning to a newly defined normal. Keep these tips top of mind the next time you’re pitching ahead of a conference, and you’ll be sure to leave a lasting impression.