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Networking in social distancing times

If you are an entrepreneur, 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.

Networking is 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…

Enter virtual, aka online networking! The “new normal” way to pursue your efforts in “getting out there” and meeting like-minded entrepreneurs.

In the last month, I’ve visited my favourite networking group, the Women’s Entrepreneurial Exchange, virtually, a few times. Hosted by Sarena Miller and co-hosted, at times, by yours truly, We2 (for short) got on the virtual networking wagon way before the threat of COVID-19 forced us into isolation.

I love attending We2 events because it helps me to keep in touch with my business besties, as they share not only business tips, but also tips on getting through these challenging times.

How does online networking work?

Great question! First, 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 on 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. Like in-person networking events, you’ll probably be given about 30 seconds to introduce yourself formally to the group.

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 Bilingual Email Signature for more tips.

Now, get yourself out there … virtually!

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