On Wednesday, March 18th 2020, the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) announced that they had to make the difficult decision to cancel its Mid-Year Legislative and Regulatory Conference, which was scheduled to occur in Arlington, Virginia from April 19th - April 21st. The culprit? COVID-19.
Coronavirus has brought businesses and entire countries to a stand-still in recent weeks and the background screening industry is no different. We fully support this decision and while there will most definitely be financial repercussions for the cancellation, PBSA made the right decision for their Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) members.
The PBSA Mid-Year Conference is a great opportunity for end users, CRAs and wholesalers to learn about the latest information related to the industry’s legislative updates and efforts, compliance best practices and of course, to network with peers and business partners.
This conference is vital to the success of all PBSA members, attendees and exhibitors. So what happens in a situation like this when the conference is cancelled? Business. As. Usual. (Or as close to it as possible)
Conference cancellation doesn’t mean that you have to abandon your efforts to learn and interact with your peers and business partners. In fact, we understand that PBSA is working on a plan to hold panel discussions, presentations, etc. in live and, or recorded video format. We also have suggestions for how CRAs can open or continue their dialogue with the supplier community. Below are four ways that we believe you can make the best of this situation.
- Attend the sessions virtually. PBSA plans to stay the course in keeping you informed on all things happening in the background screening industry. Likely, these will be done via pre-recorded talks or live-streamed events. Pencil those talks in and sponge up all the information you can from the comfort of your home office!
- Schedule your meetings anyway. Truth is, it's difficult to meet with all the key players you’re hoping to see in a three-day timespan. You have the time blocked off for the conference anyway. Why not schedule a call or even better, a web conference? Instead of saying, “Hey! Are you going to the conference? No? Darn it, I guess we can't meet up.”, the conversation shifts to, “Hey! Are you and yours all healthy and well? I was really hoping to get together with you in DC. Perhaps we would be able to get something on the schedule in the coming days or weeks?”. While major new business development initiatives likely aren’t going to launch in the next few weeks, you can build the groundwork for a successful business relationship sooner rather than late
- Make it memorable. Let’s take step one a step further. Let’s say you were scheduled to meet with a large prospective client for coffee offsite mid-afternoon during the conference. You may not be able to meet with this person face to face, but how about a virtual coffee get together? Just brew your favorite hot beverage and Facetime or Zoom or whatever video conferencing app you prefer. You can enjoy coffee together, network and talk about how you can start to work together or expand your relationship based on your current business challenges.
- Create your own virtual booth. This tip is geared mainly towards exhibitors. Many of us schedule product demos during the exhibitor floor times. Programs now exist that allow you to host a virtual conference room floor, where you can have various demos and meetings happening simultaneously in cyberspace. Folks can jump in and out of sessions and demos as they see fit, ask the speaker questions via chat fields, it’s almost like the real deal, but you get to practice social distancing at the same time.
The truth is that we are all learning on the fly and adjusting to our new reality. And the best way to work through this together is to attempt to insert some normalcy in our lives. Business, albeit different than the norm, must go on. We will all get through this together. Stay healthy and safe.
In the meantime, check out our recent podcast on COVID-19 and Its Effect on Background Screening Companies.