How to be an effective Virtual Networker
Three months ago, if I spoke to someone about whether they did any virtual networking, I would get a strange look followed by “Is there such a thing?”
As a result of the pandemic and lockdown, many organisations including business networking providers have had to adapt where virtual networking, Zoom calls and webinars have now been embedded into our everyday business life.
Although there are some similarities with face-to-face networking, there are some subtle differences to consider when attending virtual networking events. In this blog post I have highlighted some points you may want to consider to become an effective virtual networker.
Why are you looking to attend a certain event? What are your goals?
Think about what you are looking to achieve, who do you want to meet, and why? Are you looking for sales opportunities? Maybe you’re looking for someone to collaborate with?
It is unlikely that you are going to win business straight away. People buy people. It takes time to build trust, value, and likeability.
A virtual event is not going to be any different when you are trying to reach these goals.
Prepare your pitch
Every event virtual or face-to-face will include a session where you can introduce yourself. Rather than “Umming and Ahhing” spend time preparing what you are going to say. The benefit of preparing ahead of time is that you can perfect your message. It also helps you to focus on the event and what other attendees are saying. You don’t want to miss a golden opportunity.
Set the stage
When it comes to virtual networking, we are engaging with everyone on that call rather than who we choose to chat to.
Before joining the event
- Minimise interruptions wherever possible. Work in a separate closed room if circumstances allow.
- Make sure you are in the zone. For the duration of the session, you are in the event and nowhere else.
- If you have to pop off the call make sure that you have an placeholder image of yourself or the business logo. (ie turn off video mode). Also, make sure you are on mute.
- What does the background that you are zooming from look like? You may wish to use a virtual backdrop (or one you have customised that promotes your business,
- Although dress codes have changed. Smart casual is the norm. Turning up in your pyjamas is not the right look to win business.
- If you have an unexpected visitor (eg one of your children or a pet, see if you can put a positive spin on it- we are all human and have lives outside of work).
Don’t be distracted
- If you are attending an event give it the respect that it deserves.
- If you have loads of things to deal with, don’t be tempted to answer emails or send texts. You wouldn’t do it if you were at a face-to-face networking event.
- As you are more visible on a virtual networking event your facial expressions and body language would suggest that you have zoned out.
As organisers get familiar with online platforms, many of them have started introducing break out rooms. These allow participants to chat in smaller groups and explore business relationships.
Exude positivity and don’t be frightened to share
Positivity is contagious. People will be drawn to it. Bring a positive attitude in what you say and in what you don’t say. If you’re able to share some of the useful tips that you have learnt during the lockdown, don’t be frightened to inspire. Good news has an amazing way of empowering other people.
If you have to share something negative, try and turn it around to something positive – share how you overcame the issue
Utilise the chat facility- Get contact information
If you have good knowledge to share utilise the chat facility.
This will help strengthen the bond between you and the other delegates – particularly the businesses that you would like to connect with.
Most virtual networking meetings will ask participants to share their contact information during the event or their permission to share emails, via a follow-up email, is requested.
Remember to follow up after the event
During the session or straight afterwards consider posting something tagging in the organisers and the people that you made contact with. This will help boost your profile but allow you to make new connections with the people you would like to work/collaborate or do business with.
If you don’t have an email or phone number to use to follow up with, you may wish to keep that relationship alive via LinkedIn. This way people can learn more about you, your background, and what you do.
These tips are not exhaustive but highlight the maim things you need to think about when attending virtual networking events.
To try out this advice, why not join us at one of our upcoming events listed below:
Havering and Waltham Forest Events to be confirmed for July.
Simon Lewin is a Business Growth Manager (BGM) for the Building Legacies programme and specialises in – Strategies for Winning Business, Face-to-Face Sales and Pitching and Presenting.
Simon provides the following areas of support to his Building Legacies clients: Building business relationships, Sales Retention/ Growth, and Implementing measurable achievable and sustainable processes.