Virtual Networking Tips and Tricks
What exactly is networking anyway? In the professional sense, it’s meeting new people with the intent to exchange information and develop a mutual and helpful relationship. It seems easier for the extroverts among us – most live for the moment they get to make a connection, introduce themselves and get to know people. However, for us natural introverts, this can be difficult.
As I began to face my own fears of networking, I realized that as coaches, we need to be able to address the root issues of this concept in order to build our business and assist our clients when they ask things like:
- When do I get to know people and become known?
- How do I connect and build a lasting relationship that can help me get where I want to go in my life and career?
- How do I help someone else do the same thing?
As I worked through these questions with my own coach, we unpacked why I felt perfectly comfortable speaking, training, singing and doing practically anything else at center stage, yet found it much more difficult to talk to people in social networking situations. It came down to control. When I’m “on stage” with an audience in a classroom, boardroom or conference center, I know they came to see, hear or experience something I had to offer. But when the setting is more social and I potentially need something from another person, I lose that sense of control.
I was determined to push past this, but pandemic circumstances dictated that I do so “virtually.” I began to embrace social media in a new way and became resolute about making new connections.
Here are three tips and tricks from my learning experience that you can use to refine your own virtual networking skills:
1. Get to know people and become known.
- Attend new events with people you don’t already know. Yes, it’s a bit simple. However, when you think about it, those of us who aren’t very good at networking don’t attend a lot of new events. Today, there are more virtual event opportunities than ever before. Attending a virtual event can also be less intimidating and helpful as you ease into meeting new people. It can be the first step to getting outside your comfort zone.
- Foster authentic connections. You must invest in creating a relationship of purpose. Find a mutual interest and build on that instead of the random and sometimes meaningless dialog that tends to consume these types of meetings.
2. Connect and build lasting relationships.
- Accept and send LinkedIn or other social media requests. Be consistent about sending one request per week and accepting no less than five per month that you find meaningful in a mutual way. This strategy will contribute to building your network and developing lasting relationships.
- Maintain your new connections by reaching out periodically. Set reminders to connect regarding an important topic shared with your new connection, follow up on a life event they mentioned, or just to catch up.
3. Help someone else do the same thing.
- Facilitate new connections. We all have a “circle” and sometimes they include the right connections for others to get ahead as well. Sharing a contact should always be accompanied by asking the permission of both parties. In trusting relationships, it will be clear that you want the best for all.
- Host a virtual event. Using Meetaway, Zoom, Brazen or other similar online platforms, you can host your own virtual networking events. These events can be mutually beneficial for you and those you want to help get connected.
Networking was a weak spot for me. But researching and following these tips and tricks has made it much easier to do, even during a pandemic. Are you ready to make a new connection?