The 22nd Northwest Arkansas Business Women’s Conference will be held virtually this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conference Director Alex Howland said the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the event, began planning for a virtual conference in March, when the pandemic hit the country.
The conference, which begins at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, will be hosted on an app through the chamber’s website and will allow virtual attendees to interact with each other; networking opportunities have always been a major selling point of the conference.
The pre-pandemic conferences drew more than 1,000 participants. Howland said the virtual conference idea has been well received.
“When COVID hit, we really started thinking, ‘How are we going to be able to change this conference?’ ” Howland said. “The best part of it is there is so much connection virtually. You can go to the wall and post photos, just like on Facebook, and it is all contained in one app.
“People were really intimidated by virtual at first. We were super intentional about who were talking to and making sure we were hitting all the hot topics that are so important right now.”
The chamber lined up Crystal Washington, a technology marketing strategist, as its keynote speaker. The conference will also have breakout sessions and a panel discussion hosted by communications expert Blake Woolsey.
“It is all the stuff we need, like best practices for tech,” Howland said. “That will be helpful for our current situation.”