Ah, yes, it was the year of 2020. Fall had arrived, and I went to my favorite restaurant after work with my networking group to catch up. We sat inside, laughed, and talked about…
Oh wait, that didn’t happen because we are still in a pandemic, but mind you, networking has not stopped. Zoom fatigue, technical difficulties, social awkwardness, and all, we must keep going. Slowly, we have adapted to the new virtual norms, and there’s plenty of room for online networking.
Yes, I am longing for the networking happy hours after work. As someone who is in Business Development, this is my time to get out and meet people. We can still nurture and build trust, however.
It’s safe to say that most of your in-person events have adapted to continue online. Go back to your networking events list and see what’s happening. Guess what? The same rules still apply as they did in person:
So, let’s organize your thoughts. Where do you start?
What are your networking goals? Yes, it seems easy, but it’s better to be strategic.
Go through your email, social media platforms, and maybe even your CRM and dig through the networking list.
Craft a meaningful message catered to each individual. Since location is no longer a barrier, think about the bigger picture. There are probably more networking groups outside of your typical vicinity that are allowing people to visit.
Follow up and be consistent, but lead with empathy.
During these times, we have to be patient as many are juggling work while helping their children with online school, taking care of a sick one, and dealing with a job loss. Think about how you can be the best resource and help others. That, of course, is the true essence of networking — seeing every conversation as an opportunity.
People want to connect and have conversations. Strengthen your online presence by being active on social media platforms and online forums. For example, the Retail Merchants Association has an online forum in which many members are actively involved. You could meet potential clients, partners, or people that are in the same industry as you.
Of course, explore something that makes sense for you and your company. Remember to be a thought leader and build your brand and customer engagement by engaging with social media posts.
What you do now will substantially impact future opportunities, so staying connected is vital.