10 Best Virtual Networking Tips
Networking in person is off the table for the time being. But this does not mean that connecting with other professionals is canceled. In fact, there are numerous ways to expand your professional network while adhering to distancing guidelines.
Below, 10 thought leaders share their best tips and ideas for virtual networking success.
Focus on quality over quantity. Reach out to three people in your network with whom you may have lost the connection and re-ignite it over a video chat or phone call. Create a personal connection first, then explore opportunities to help each other.
Show Up Early
It's still important to connect with people. It's OK to ask how people are doing. Show up a few minutes early and get in on the small talk that happens before the meeting gets into full swing.
Create daily or weekly 'open office hours' and let your networks know you're open to meeting anyone during those times. Using an app like Calendly to manage scheduling of virtual meetings makes this super easy.
Dress for the Occasion
Treat the meeting just like you would an in-person event. Dress appropriately, make eye contact and stay off your phone or other websites.
Virtual Coffee Hour
Instead of making a traditional email introduction, I like to schedule a virtual coffee with all parties. It’s a fun way to make a virtual call seem less cold.
Don’t Discuss Business
During quarantine or stay-at-home orders make the most of your time by calling (or emailing if you can't call) your network to check in regarding their health (and their family's health). Do not discuss business unless your connection brings it up. To do anything else would be inappropriate and boorish.
Check in with your Contacts
Invest more in your existing relationships. It may be tempting to want to "network" and develop new contacts. But now is the time to check in on the people you care about within your network. Are you well? Still employed? How's business? Make it a point to check in with your contacts to make networking a two-way street.
Engage, Don’t Just Connect
It’s relatively easy to click “Connect” on LinkedIn or “Follow” on other social media platforms, but the trick to successful virtual networking is to actually engage and build meaningful relationships with those connections. After you make a connection, send that person a message introducing yourself and asking them thought-provoking questions to begin to build rapport. Once the introduction has been made, continue to follow up with that person by sending relevant industry news or by simply checking in on their professional accomplishments, don’t just message them when you need something.
Share Your Knowledge
One of the best ways to create a professional connection is to offer something that adds value. If you are someone with polished writing skills and you have something of value to share, submitting articles and blogs to industry publications or groups will allow business professionals to engage with your content and connect with you over your work. Don’t be afraid to share the knowledge you have with other professionals.
Facebook and LinkedIn have thousands of groups for anyone and everyone to join specifically to their industry and niche. Once you are added to these groups, don’t be afraid to post and comment. This is not only a great way to connect with like-minded individuals on a social platform, but it’s also a great way to stay up to date on industry trends and news, better educating yourself in the field.