How to make the most out of virtual networking

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COVID19 has been a tough time for many of us. Especially for those who are looking to shift their role or go for a new one entirely.

But, with 85% of jobs being filled through networking alone, getting sociable is essential to your career.

With the ‘new normal’ ensuring that face-to-face events are off the cards, virtual networking has become the easiest way to secure yourself a pay-rise or a brand-new job entirely. But how do you actually succeed at virtual networking? What can you do to stand out from the screen?

The Basics

While these tips can differ from event to event, there are a few things that you can do to improve your networking experience:

–        Follow the event hashtag on social media

This allows you to stay in the loop about any interesting discussions or event updates

–        Create a great profile

Some events will allow you to create an attendee profile. This profile is the virtual equivalent of your handshake. Make it a good one.

–        Get on the group chat

Some events will offer a discussion board or group chat throughout the event. This is the perfect place to offer advice and support to other attendees, as well as spot any potentially interesting opportunities.

Me, Me, Me

The biggest mistake you can make in networking? Thinking it’s all about you. Would you rather support someone that offers insightful opinions and advice, or someone who asks without offering anything in return? You might not think you have a lot to bring to the table, but whether it’s social media skills or even drawing attention to something interesting you read, networking comes far better to those that give.

Actively Participate

We’ve all ‘attended’ a virtual webinar while we’re grabbing some lunch or scrolling through Twitter. To benefit from networking, you need to actively participate. This means popping your phone on ‘do not disturb’ and going all in.

It’s also worth bringing a notebook and pen. Take notes on those that might be interesting connections, details like their full name and current company make it a lot easier to track them down after the event. As well as a reminder of anything you discussed.

Come Prepared

Prepare for your online networking event as you would with an in-person event. This means setting a few, clear objectives for a networking event can be a good idea. This could be to increase your general network or even to demonstrate your thought-leadership skills. Have a few core aims and achievements in mind before the session.

Not a natural networker? Be a prepared one instead. Have a clear and short elevator pitch at hand for easy introductions. Write this and a few ‘stock’ answers down before the event so that they can be copied and pasted into the chat box. For example:

–        What do you think the biggest trends in your industry are?

–        What journals or blogs would you recommend?

–        What do you enjoy most about your current role?

–        How has COVID19 affected your industry?

It’s also worth updating your CV and having a copy ready to email over in case anyone asks.

Connect Others

During the event, another attendee has mentioned that they have a marketing-shaped hole in their business. Luckily, you know three brilliant marketeers. Don’t be afraid to voice that you can connect them to the right people. During these events, it’s easy to build a reputation as someone who is well connected. Simply offer to introduce them to a person who may be able to solve their problem and next time they need something; it might be you that they approach.

Follow Up

You had a few brilliant conversations with some really interesting people. Now what?

The most important part of networking is undoubtedly the follow-up. As we mentioned earlier, you’ve already taken note of full names, job titles and details of the conversation. So, head to LinkedIn or Twitter and drop them a message. Keep it light but remind them of who you are.

Struggling to network in the new normal? MEEOW brings four businesspeople together, at random, to video network. Build your connections, meet like-minded people and improve your networking skills quickly.

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