25 Mar Networking in social distancing times
If you own a business or work for a non-profit, I’m sure you’ve attended at least one networking event in the last few years. If you’re reading this, chances are we met at a networking event.
Oxford Languages defines networking as “the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.” I like to define it as a great way to make new connections and to reconnect with people you don’t get to see often.
However, in these social distancing times, in-person networking, just like any other event, has become a non-essential activity, and virtual networking has become the “new normal” way to pursue your efforts in “getting out there” and meeting like-minded people.
How does online networking work? Great question!
- First, you might either get an invitation to an event or you decide to register to an event you saw online.
- Once registered, the event organizer will send you a link to join a videoconference call. You might also be provided with a password. There are many platforms out there, but Zoom seems to be the most popular these days.
- Once you click on the link, you will be connected to a virtual room (or a waiting room) until the organizer shows up. To find out more about Zoom, check out my latest article on Tips and Tools for Working from Home.
And then what? Once the call starts, all microphones should be muted so that the background sound does not interfere with the person speaking.
Keep it simple!
- Sharing “what you do and who you do it for” works in some instances, but I suggest you get a bit more creative. Ask a question that gets people to raise their hand; for example, “Do you know anyone who wants their home to be more organized?” Or a catchy phrase which states the problem you address and the solution you provide. People don’t want to know how many degrees you have, how long you’ve been in business or the price of your products or services. They want to know that you have a solution to their problem!
- Obviously, the days of handing out business cards are gone when it comes to online networking. However, if you want to keep in touch with someone you meet in a virtual room, you can request his/her contact info in the chat section or look them up on social media. In some meetings, it’s encouraged that everyone put their contact information in the chat. If worse comes to worst, you can ask the event organizer to connect you both by email.
- When meeting people online, and this also works when meeting in person, don’t be shy to send each new person a short email saying that it was nice to meet them and to add something more personal, such as an invitation to another networking event, a useful link or a comment about what was discussed during the event. You can also add a link to your website or an invitation to your online workshop in your email signature. Click here to get your hands on a FREE Guide to optimize your email signature for more tips.
Finally, have you heard about Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is an invitation-only audio chat iPhone only app that was launched in April 2020. It features a wide variety of clubs and virtual rooms with conversations on topics such as business, networking, dating, personal development, and anything under the sun. Between December of 2020 and the time of writing these lines, Clubhouse went from 600,000 active weekly users to over 10 million and remains accessible only by invitation and with an iPhone. The good news is, I have an invitation with your name on it! Simply reach out to me by email here and I will send you an invite. If you don’t have an iPhone, the Android application is set to come out soon. Now, get yourself out there … virtually!
Now, get yourself out there … virtually!