Even under the best of circumstances, attending construction conferences can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. We all want to squeeze in as much as we can in a short amount of time. This year, with most public events going virtual, it’s important to know that navigating online versions of your favorite conferences can be easy and in fact, offer more networking and learning opportunities. They’re also more affordable.
Wider Networking Opportunities
Since the first Groundbreak in 2015, the event has grown way beyond a user conference. Today, Groundbreak is one of the industry’s most sought after construction technology conferences. Last year, more than 4,000 people from around the world attended the fifth annual Groundbreak in Phoenix, Arizona.
“The in-person event is more of an experience. You walk into a room and get chills because of the speaker or because of the music playing. It’s more experiential,” Rice explains.
The virtual Groundbreak experience, however, will provide wider opportunities for networking and learning. Attendees will answer a couple of questions at the beginning of their registration when they login live and then be matched up with like-minded individuals or those in closely related fields.
“You’re no longer only limited to the 50 people you may be passing in the convention center. Now you have the opportunity to chat through messaging, and also schedule a video call or connect on LinkedIn right away.”
“There’s a matchmaking functionality in the software,” said Rice. “You’re no longer only limited to the 50 people you may be passing in the convention center. Now you have the opportunity to chat through messaging, and also schedule a video call or connect on LinkedIn right away.”
Learn at Your Own Pace
Topics range from nuts-and-bolts learning like, “Increasing Efficiency and Collaboration in the Invoice-to-Payment Process” to explorations of industry trends such as “The Future of Construction: Platform, BIM and Connected Teams.”
The lineup of speakers and topics are varied and compelling—it’s impossible to choose which sessions will be the most valuable. Luckily, this year, attendees don’t have to choose. All the sessions are pre-recorded, so they will be available on-demand when they air.
Breakout sessions and keynotes can be watched according to the agenda, or anytime for the 30 days following their premiere. This way, attendees will get to experience more of the breakout sessions and keynotes than ever before. This opens the conference up beyond a two-day window—even ticket holders who may not be available when the event goes live can still experience much of the conference.
Easy Access to Exhibitors
Once organizers realized Groundbreak would be an online event, they started searching for a format that would best allow sponsors to reach out and engage new people, while offering learning opportunities to attendees.
As they sat through numerous demos, Rice said a specific format came out on top. That’s how they decided to proceed with the Sponsor Showcase at Groundbreak.
“The way that it will work is that you’ll see the sponsor logo and click into it and join their space. There will be demos; sponsors will be chatting in a chat room; you can download files from the sponsor,” Rice explains.
While it won’t be a one-on-one video chat, you will be able to ask all your questions in the chat room or simply follow the thread to learn from others.
“After a lot of research and networking, this is the format that attendees interact with the most and can get the most out of,” said Rice.
Ask the Experts
One of Groundbreak’s most popular attractions has been the Innovation Lab. Crowds could come together to speak with Procore developers, product experts, customer service reps, and others who could help answer questions.
This year’s virtual version will be called “Ask the Experts,” a portal where those same Procore pros will be waiting to answer questions about Procore products. There will be scads of chat rooms based on industry topics. This way, you’ll be able to follow conversations others are having and ask your own questions.
“They will be staffed live with various Procore experts,” Rice said. “For the two days that we’re live, their job is to answer your questions.”
Newcomers to Groundbreak will want to strategize to get as much as they possibly can out of this packed two-day event. Since the breakout sessions will be available to watch and rewatch after the conference, Rice advises prioritizing the live-only aspects.
That means attending Sponsor Showcase live demos and checking out the “Ask the Experts” portal. You won’t get all-access to Procore experts at any other time in the year like you will at Groundbreak, according to Rice. For that reason, take all of the time you need in “Ask the Experts,” checking out new products, and asking questions about the ones you already have.
“We have quite a bit of heavy-hitter prizes that we think attendees will find valuable.”
There’s a bonus to interacting with as much Groundbreak content as you can during the two days the conference is live, too: Each thing you do, whether it’s to attend a session, ask a question at “Ask the Experts,” download a PDF, or watch a sponsor’s demo in the “Sponsor Showcase,” will earn you points toward prizes.
“We have quite a bit of heavy-hitter prizes that we think attendees will find valuable,” Rice said.
There’s another silver lining that comes with meeting virtually—the ability to welcome attendees from all over the world, especially those who otherwise might not have been able to make it. According to Rice, Groundbreak hosted attendees from some 20 different countries in previous years. This year, attendees are expected to come from more than 60 countries.
And it’s not only the added travel time and expense registrants will save on: It’s the ticket price, too. Doing everything virtually means Procore was able to offer two registration options, both of which represent significant savings over previous years. A complimentary Starter Pass will get you into a selection of the keynote events, while a $99 Premium Pass gets you access to all Groundbreak has to offer. Moreover, with the Premium Pass attendees can access all six keynotes and earn up to 10 CEUs (a $1,000 value).
“I’ve been telling people, even if you can’t attend the live events, buy the ticket,” Rice said. “You have access to the content for 30 days. There’s a lot of value to be had with this new setting.”