Stick with us throughout this post...it's long but there are lots of great tips and pointers in here. If you're attending the iRelaunch Return to Work Conference, this is the guide for you. If you're not attending the Conference...why not?! The iRelaunch Return to Work Conference includes the iRelaunch Return to Work Roadmap, which regularly retails for $79. That means if you can register before September 28th, you essentially get access to the Conference for FREE and you get $50 off the price of the Return to Work Roadmap. Even if you wait until September 29th or later, you'll still save $20 on the Roadmap and access to the Conference!
Tip #1: Register!
Well, this is a no brainer! If you haven’t registered already…don’t wait any longer!! The price of admission goes up next week so if you want to snag a $29 spot...do it right now and then come right back here after you finish all 3 steps of the registration (yes, there are 3 - and we explain this all below!)
If you already have your ticket, great! Make sure you are fully registered on the conference platform we are using, Brazen! (See Tip #2 for some guidance on how to confirm this!)
The last step to register...and it’s okay if you did this one out of order, is to register for our Job Board! If you already registered before the conference, no sweat...you’re all set!* But if you haven't already created a job seeker account, you’ll want to register and upload your resume there too so that you can connect with the all of sponsors of our Conference on the Job Board after the Conference is over!
*To maximize the chances of an employer finding you, make sure you've also uploaded your resume to your account. Employers may not always post their jobs on the job board if they find enough candidates by searching through resumes and profiles already on the Job Board.
Tip #2: I beg of you, please read those emails!
I know, I know, it seems silly to have to say this, but we all have a lot going on and our lives and inboxes can get...busy!
But, I promise you, the emails are there to help! If you feel like you've received the same email about needing to complete registration...we've got you covered. However, once you do complete your Brazen registration, you're subscribed to an email sequence that has great information on how to prepare for the conference...information that many of our May 2021 Conference attendees wish they'd paid attention to!
- "Excellent material, better advanced prep on my part would have allowed me to get much more out of the event."
- "Can't wait to dive into the material. Wish I had had this (or knew it was available - or saw that it was available) before the event."
- "It's very helpful. I thought you had to start at the beginning and go through all of it, which was overwhelming, but now I know it was there for guidance and I could go at my own pace."
You will get as much out of this Conference as you put in, so do yourself a favor and make sure you're putting in the effort to prepare!
Tip #3: Stay organized!
We recommend bookmarking, starring or adding a few sites to your favorites on your preferred browser (although you'll find the recommended browsers for the Conference here). Guess what? That very link is one we suggest you bookmark...our Conference FAQ Page! Here's the full list: (pro tip: if you want you could bookmark this blog post and refer back to this page if you want!)
- Conference FAQ Page
- iRelaunch account log in Page
- October 2021 Conference Page (Hint: this page has the agenda on it!)
- This Preparation Guide
Our last tip for staying organized...record your username and passwords for each of your accounts somewhere safe! Note that the site through which you log in to the Job Board is separate from the site through which you log in to your iRelaunch account.
Tip #4: Lock in your schedule!
Now that you know where to find the agenda (hint...right here!), take a look at the full lineup, and plan out your schedule. Thanks to one of May's Conference attendees, we recommend printing out the agenda beforehand so you have a physical copy and don't have to leave the Brazen platform during the Conference to keep checking...but also note that the agenda for each day can be found within Brazen on the Broadcast Schedule!
"I did not have any materials and think that it would have been better to have the information in front of me during the sessions."
To get the most out of your Conference experience, we recommend you clear your schedule and make preparations ahead of time for any caregiving arrangements or adjusting any scheduled appointments you have during the Conference. Give yourself the gift of time, without feeling guilty for taking this time for yourself. Especially if you have been the primary caregiver for many years, acknowledge that this time is an important investment in yourself, in your relaunch and in your career. Coordinate with your family what blocks of time and days you will need to be uninterrupted for the virtual sessions, safeguard your time and energy and seek out a quiet zone where you can focus and reflect.
"My biggest issue was that I just wasn't available for the entire conference. Maybe if I had reviewed the schedule for the conference in advance, I could shifted my schedule in order to attend the sessions that I most wanted to attend."
However, we know as well as anyone that life happens, and if you do have to miss some of the sessions, we are able to record sessions and those will be provided to Conference attendees after the event concludes.
"I ran out of time because of other obligations I had in the day. If I had really cleared my schedule for the full time there would have been enough time."
The last tip here, and it's an important one...if you haven't already done so, add the Conference to your personal calendar and make sure there's a reminder attached to it! TIME ZONE ISSUE ALERT: The agenda on our October 2021 Conference Page defaults to the event's time zone which is Eastern Daylight Time and does not automatically adjust to the viewer's time zone. Even if you select "Add to Calendar," the platform we utilize for displaying the agenda does not update to your time zone, so be sure to create an event reminder on your personal calendar in your own time zone! We will also send email reminders with links, but having that extra calendar notification will keep you on track.
Tip #5: Get your tech ready!
A crucial element of having a great Conference experience? Ensuring your Internet connectivity is strong throughout the Conference. Weak connections can often create disruptions in audio and video. In order to address this issue, try hooking into an Ethernet cord or switching to an alternative Internet source. We highly recommend you test and troubleshoot your connectivity before the Conference and refer to this link if you have any connectivity issues during the Conference.
While you're participating in the Conference, to maximize your connection and Conference experience, we recommend you close out of any unnecessary applications or windows as having too many applications open can slow down and disrupt your connection to Brazen. We recommend having the following applications open and using your phone to interact with iRelaunch and fellow relaunchers on social media.
- Brazen Platform
- iRelaunch account
- Word Processing Document for note taking or information for networking (see Tip #8)
If there are other important notes or documents you want to have handy (like the agenda, your resume or notes about the sponsors from your research), we recommend you print out those you want to refer to, to limit the amount of open applications and windows.
So you are all set to connect with other relaunchers on social media, if you haven't already, now is a great time to join the relaunchers only iRelaunch Return-to-Work Facebook group (be sure to answer the 2 admission questions + agree to the terms & conditions in order to be admitted) and the iRelaunch LinkedIn group. Try to use your phone to interact on social to keep your applications and windows on your computer to a minimum.
Use these conference hashtags to reference any conference takeaways, share your Conference "quiet zone" set-up and connect with other relaunchers and attendees: #iRelaunch, #ReturnToWorkConference #RTWConference #ReturnToWork. We also have a fun surprise for everyone to share on social media that we'll reveal during the Pre-Conference Welcome message with Carol Fishman Cohen on October 4th.
Here are some other important tech items to test and help you prepare before the conference:
Is your browser up to date? Make sure you have the latest version of your browser. We recommend using Chrome, but Brazen also supports Firefox, Safari and MS Edge.
Is your camera, mic and screen share enabled? Review your browser settings to make sure your browser can have access to your camera, mic and screen share. Also, check your device settings to make sure your audio, camera and screen settings are set to the preferred channels.
Most importantly, please do not wait until the event is over to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to troubleshoot technical issues or to email@example.com for general inquiries! We can't help you if we don't know there's an issue! Please do not direct any Conference inquiries or issues to our social media accounts or the Facebook forum!
Tip #6: Prepare for Content Days!
Handwritten, typed or voice memos, however you best take notes, make sure that you're queued up and ready to go because you'll be taking a lot!
Before we get there though, start documenting the burning questions you already have. Whether it's about how to relaunch, questions for a specific panel or speaker on the agenda...make sure you have put some thought into your questions so they're ready to copy and paste. That way, you can spend more time absorbing and reflecting on the content and advice, and less time frantically typing a coherent question into the chat. Note that since there is a lot of information, to keep the Conference on schedule, the Hiring Employer Panels and Carol's keynote will not take questions from the chat. The coaches session and the Ask Me Anything session with Jennifer Howland and Carol will take questions from the chat. Document questions that arise during the Hiring Employer Panels to ask when speaking with employer representatives at the virtual career fair and networking day on October 7th. NOTE - if your question is one that can be answered by looking at the landing page of their program, don't waste your precious time with the recruiters asking it.
Preparing for Carol's keynote...
Carol is renowned for her keynote address at the iRelaunch Return to Work Conference. How she packs so much great content and actionable insight into one session is beyond us! As wonderful as she is, to keep the day moving, she is still confined by the conference schedule so there’s a lot of content that she can only touch on briefly (for this reason, Carol is unable to take questions during the keynote, so just be prepared to be present and absorb the information!) What she can’t cover in detail during the keynote, is thoroughly covered in the iRelaunch Return to Work Roadmap.
To get the most out of Carol's keynote on Day 1...catch up on these steps of the Roadmap before the conference begins. While we recommend you take your time and not rush through any of the Roadmap steps, it's a good idea to give these steps a read through and watch any of the videos attached to these steps to give you a good foundational knowledge for the keynote. You can (and should) revisit them again after the conference.
Step 1: Reconnect personally and professionally during a career break
Step 2: Enlist support: The iRelaunch Return to Work Forums on Facebook
Step 3: Stay relevant during your career break
Step 4: Assess your readiness to relaunch
Step 5: The vision for your relaunch - Who has your dream job?
Step 6: Build your confidence
Step 19: Discover LinkedIn’s gift to relaunchers
Step 21: Develop a great elevator pitch
Step 26: Consider re-entry internships
Step 27: Prepare for tricky interview questions
Access the Roadmap by entering the Return to Work Roadmap Product from your Library in your iRelaunch account.
Preparing for coaches panel…
To get the most value out of the coaches panel scheduled for Day 1, document your thoughts and questions that pop-up as you go through the suggested steps in the Roadmap above. Use the worksheets in Steps 3 through 9 of the Roadmap to help organize your thoughts so you have questions prepared and ready to ask the panels on the day of the conference.
PRO TIP: To increase your chances of your question(s) being answered, make sure that it's addressing the topic you want to learn about without being too specific to your situation. The coaches will be seeking out questions that can be applicable to the broadest possible audience vs. addressed in a 1:1 coaching session.
Example of a question likely to be answered: "How realistic is it to relaunch into a position of seniority and pay scale equivalent to where I left off?"
Example of a question too specific to be addressed by the coaches: "I worked at SAP and now have been on a 7 year career break. I am learning Python programming language to restart my career. How do I convince employers that I am the right candidate for the position as a Developer? What should I add in my resume and how do I prepare myself to get this title/position?"
Tip #7: Prepare for Networking Day!
Just because it’s the last day of the conference, doesn’t mean you should wait to prepare for this day until the last minute!
"I took the advice to get to know the interface well in advance, and questions in the Q&A session's chat helped solve some of the navigation hiccups."
Regardless of what stage you're at in your relaunch journey, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with how the virtual platform, Brazen, works for both chat based and video based interactions. Check out the guide "Learn about the virtual conference platform experience" in your iRelaunch account and the Conference FAQ page to get up to speed so you’re comfortable with the technology before you begin networking.
As with any platform, there is a learning curve, so heed the advice of former attendees and take few moments to familiarize yourself with the virtual conference experience by watching a short 3 minute video and checking out a few other articles on helpful topics.
- I received a request for a scheduled chat with a representative. How do I accept?
- What can the booth representatives see about me?
- What do I need to now about participating in a video/audio chat?
- What do I need to know about participating in the event? (Please log in to your iRelaunch account and navigate to "Learn about the virtual conference platform experience" to review this information)
- How should we dress if we are invited to participate in a video/audio chat?
An employer may invite you to engage in a video chat, so wear something you would be comfortable wearing in that situation. We also recommend you are aware of what is in your background.
Even if you’re just beginning your relaunch journey and you’re not ready to talk with sponsors...the networking day is a great opportunity to practice your interview skills. Not to mention, you can use this chance to gather insight on what companies and employers are looking for, all while learning how the job search processes and landscape might have changed since your career break.
If you are further along in your relaunch journey, you'll want to develop your “chat strategy” (see tip #8) for the day based on the research you'll conduct leading up to the conference on the organizations you're interested in.
Tip #8: Prepare for chat strategy for Day 3!
We recommend beginning your research on the organizations you’re interested in speaking with as soon as possible so you can learn about their return to work programs, eligibility requirements, open roles and positions and research the overall industry outlook for insightful commentary you may want to bring up. A great starting point is to click on the sponsor’s logos on our October conference page to learn more about each sponsor, or you can even visit the booths that the sponsors have set up for the Networking day by signing in through your iRelaunch account.
We also highly recommend the following steps of the iRelaunch Return to Work Roadmap to help you prepare for these conversations:
Step 17: Practice the Golden Rules of networking
Step 18: Review the do's and don'ts of networking
Step 19: Discover LinkedIn’s gift to relaunchers
Step 20: Research potential employers using all available channels
Step 21: Develop a great elevator pitch
Step 27: Prepare for tricky interview questions
As a reminder, you can always access your Roadmap from your iRelaunch account Library.
Below are a few questions related to employer chats to review (log in to your iRelaunch account for more detailed guides and to see the corresponding screenshots to these instructions!)
- Can you be in a chat queue with more than one organization at a time?
Yes. Make sure your “Chat Availability” is set to “Available.” You can sign up to chat with as many employers as you’d like. Go to “Search Booths” and select “Ready to Chat” for any organization you want to chat with. You won’t be put into multiple chats at the same time and you won’t be pulled out of chat that you’re currently in. You’ll get a notification when you’ve been put into a chat.
- Can I see my chat transcript and notes after the event?
Yes, you will have access to this information for 6 months after the conference. Go to the “History” tab in your Brazen account to see this information. For more information, see Brazen's helpful information page on how to access chat transcript.
- Can I tell what place in line I am for the chat?
Yes, please look at the "Activity" dashboard in each employer booth to see your spot in line. The arrow on the left side shows that the attendee has made themselves “available to chat” the arrow on the upper right shows where to press the green chat button to get in line to chat. The final arrow on the right hand side shows "Your Spot in Line" in the "Activity" dashboard. Utilize this feature to help you plan, pace and strategize which booths you want to sign up to chat. Remember, you won’t be put into multiple chats at the same time and you won’t be pulled out of chat that you’re currently in and you’ll get a notification when you’ve been put into a chat.
Top tips for developing your chat strategy from iRelaunch and prior Conference attendees...
The chat based texts are set up like an instant message between
you and the employer representative and they can go by pretty quickly.
The standard Brazen chat time is 10 minutes (unless the employer or
candidate decides to end it sooner), which a prior attendee reported enjoying:
"I prefer the ten minute slots, as it challenges each of us to focus and be very specific during the chat, plus it keeps the day moving so I can be sure to chat with all the sponsors I'm interested in."
However, note that employers have the ability to extend chat times or invite you to a video chat. Since the time can go by rather quickly, to make a great impression, the most popular tip by far from prior attendees is to have an opening script or elevator pitch and some questions ready to copy and paste from a Word Processing Document on their computer:
- "One thing I would suggest is for participants to write a brief opening script. I would have been better prepared and more effective if I had written a script prior to the event. I ended up creating one on the fly and copying and pasting with most of the companies I met. It seems the chat is more primary for many of the companies and I was prepared in dress and room background, where it would have been a more strategic use of my time to get my written script and speed typing skills in order."
- "It was very difficult to type so quickly and be effective and convincing at the same time. I recommend that you instruct candidates to have pretyped introductions and questions ready that they can simply cut and paste into the chat box."
- "I think it would be wise to advise participants to have some texts written out and ready to go. I had prepared and had notes but was so anticipating an audio/video that I didn't have it ready to cut and paste"
- "It would have been helpful to have had some tips for success before we went into those - I figured out pretty quickly I needed my "elevator pitch" ready to cut and paste the moment I got into a chat."
- "In hindsight, I would have prepared a few questions and copied and pasted them in."
"Having a set time alone to chat with the recruiters was nice as opposed to the zoo like atmosphere at the in person conference I attended in 2018!"
If you are at the job searching stage of your relaunch, we highly recommend you adhere to tip #4 for Networking Day and clear your schedule as much as possible so you have enough time to chat with the sponsors you're interested in meeting.
"I personally didn't have enough time, because I was unavailable in the morning. I wish I had planned ahead and set aside the whole day."
Finally, this is your time to network! We're often asked if we can follow up or provide contact information or a list of the recruiters at the Conference for relaunchers to get in touch with. Unfortunately we're not at liberty to disclose the contact information of our sponsor representatives, but the good news is that if you are interested in the opportunities you are discussing, you can and should ask for their contact information during the chat! At the very least, make a note of their first and last name so that you can connect with them on LinkedIn (but make sure you send a personalized note with your Connection request!)
For a complete list of questions on employer chats like, "will chats be 1:1 or in groups?" or "Will I have to choose between listening to speakers or chatting with employers?" visit our Conference FAQ page.
Tip #9: Take a deep breath, and enjoy the ride!
As you begin preparing, it's easy to lose sight of your primary intention to set aside this time to learn and grow for your own personal and professional development. Remember why you signed up to attend this Conference in the first place and really try to be present and soak it all in.
The road to relaunching can be hard...relaunching takes a lot of effort and a "plan ahead mentality," so keep revisiting the decision you made to attend the Conference...your "why," and be kind to yourself along the way. You have skills, you have knowledge, you have value, and you are not alone.
Best of luck...you've got this!