6 Tips for Networking Online
Last week I had a Zoom meeting with a new acquaintance. We had never met before, but our mutual friend knew we had a lot in common and introduced us. It was a great connection and I am always grateful when these fall into my inbox. After this meeting, it got my brain thinking of how important networking online really is and a blessing it has become during this crazy time. The world is slowly opening back up and I am thrilled to be back in-person meeting for coffee and connecting. Do not get me wrong though! This mom who lives in her joggers and messy buns the majority of the time lives for the simplicity of jumping on my computer for some networking after dropping the kids off at school.
I have heard from many that online networking isn't for them, or they become nervous. It can be nerve-racking at first just like with any in-person event. I am breaking down my top 6 tips for networking online. Grab a pen and paper (or just bookmark this page) and take some notes!
1. Be Present and Participate
When you are at an in-person event networking, it is a lot easier to be present. Your phone is probably silenced and put away, you are not on a computer with different tabs open, and you can focus on the person right in front of you. When networking online, it can be super easy to check just that one email or respond to that quick question while someone may be introducing themselves on the Zoom call. No one can see your screen or what you are doing, but they can definitely tell whether you are present or not.
Turn your phone off, shut all the tabs, and take the time to participate in the conversation. You carved out time for this so make it worth it! If you are present and participating in the conversation the other attendees will remember you.
2. Elevator Pitch
The "elevator pitch". We have all heard of it. It can take some time to create something that you love and will remember. Although it is a "pitch", do not be salesy. This is your time to introduce yourself, what you do for a living or your business, and maybe your goal for being at the online networking event, or any event. The best part of practicing your elevator pitch while networking online? You can write those 3-4 sentences on a card and read right from it. No one will be able to tell and it is great practice before you head to an in-person event and share it. Take your time with this and ask for feedback from people you trust!
3. Chat it Up in the Chat box
Do not stay silent during online networking. Take full advantage of the chat box. If the speaker asks a question or feedback, respond. This is a great way for others to get to know you and your personality virtually. If someone makes a statement you agree with leave a comment that you agree to. In most online networking events I have been on there have been opportunities to make an introduction in the chat box. Drop your introduction, email, and a link to your website. Another great way to share about yourself!
Make those connections. That is why you are networking, correct? At every online networking event make it a goal to connect with 1-2 people you will continue the conversation with and get to know each other when the event is done. Send them a private chat box message and ask them for their email. Another option is taking note of a few names and emails when they introduce themselves in the chat or during the conversation. When you are done with the event, log off and send your follow-up emails right away asking for a 1-1 Zoom coffee date. If you do not do it right away, you more than likely will forget.
Showing up to any networking event once is not ideal. I know life gets busy, but if you find any networking (virtual or in-person) option you really like, mark your calendar for all future dates. People will begin remembering you when you continue to show up. This means they more than likely will personally reach out or refer someone to you.
6. Connect Others with Others
This is huge and really is the most important part of networking and community. If you meet someone that you think should connect with someone you know, connect them! I regularly send out emails making introductions for people. Hey! This is how this blog post came to fruition.
People will remember you when you begin connecting others with others. That is the goal we are all trying to accomplish, right? We want to meet people who have the same interests, thoughts, and/or maybe of value to us. Be that person to help move that needle in someone else's life. You will enjoy the benefits. Promise.