19 June, 2020
Online Networking: Making Way for The New Normal
As the old saying goes, it’s not what you know but who you know.
As daunting as networking may be, it has the potential to help you find new contacts and referrals, discover new ventures for your business, and give you opportunities to share and receive knowledge with other professionals in your field.
During these challenging times, this got us wondering…..
In a society where face to face communication is decreasing and virtual events are becoming the new normal how impactful will online networking become.
The COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures make it difficult to meet people in-person or attend large networking events. Many networking events have been postponed or canceled altogether – and organizations either have to choose between networking online or not at all.
Join us as we explore what online networking is, some of the ways that you can use tech and the internet to network, and our view on whether networking online is worth it.
What is Online Business Networking?
Without the direct face-to-face element, networking online is a different ball game altogether. At its core its still relationship building, but there are different rules of play, expectations and etiquette to follow.
Online business networking includes digital events such as webinars and conference calls, but also involves being active in your social media presence.
As many as 40% of people claim that they now network more online than they do in person. So, it’s safe to assume that networking online was a vital part of today’s business environment before the global pandemic.
How to Network Online
Before you attend your first online networking event, there are a few things you should bear in mind.
Think about who you want to network with. Defining your target audience is essential for making sure you connect with the right people. You can take a similar approach when you’re searching for online events and the type of people who attend these events.
Joining an online community, attending a webinar and networking session, or speaking individually with people via social media are great ways to get live, human-to-human interactions.
Introduce yourself in a smart – and not irritating – way. Having something to offer before you reach out makes all the difference when you’re interacting with strangers, or even acquaintances, online. This doesn’t mean that you have to be salesy in your approach though.
Find ways that you can work together so that you will both benefit. Many people are keen to collaborate in the current climate, so you could find some exciting business opportunities. Consider guest speaking at a webinar or creating a guest post as a way to boost visibility and exposure.
Be personal and human in your approach. It’s essential to be personable when online networking. If you come across as robotic or aggressively salesy, you’ll likely turn people off from your business and your brand. Participating in conversation is a great way to get to know your audience, and for them to get to know you.
Tailor your social media strategy. With so many daily users, social media platforms are one of the best spots to find online networking opportunities.
But, you can’t use a one-size-fits-all approach across all platforms and expect killer results. That’s why it’s essential to develop a different strategy on a number of different social media platforms and focus on building your personal brand.
Search around for the right online events. It’s important to find the right events so you can connect with your target audience. To find your next exciting online networking event, scout around on LinkedIn, Eventbrite and GoToWebinar to see what’s coming up.
How to make the Most Out of Online Networking Events
If you’re attending an online networking event on Zoom or GoToWebinar, the host or speaker will likely give you an opportunity to introduce yourself and your business to other attendees. Depending on the event there may even be time allocated to a break-out room with smaller groups.
Either way, you’re unlikely to have a huge amount of time to speak. So, it’s important to perfect your ‘elevator pitch’ beforehand. A good elevator pitch allows you to concisely explain your business or product in a short space of time.
Just like with traditional in-person networking events, a huge part of your success lies in the way you present yourself and the impressions you make.
During the event, don’t be shy about sharing your professional email address or social media accounts, so that prospects and potential clients are able to find you and get in touch once the event has ended.
Online Networking Event Tools
- Zoom – used primarily as video, phone, and chat services with the capacity to host hundreds of people at any time.
- GoToWebinar – allows speakers to deliver live presentations and engage with their audience via polls or other interactive tools.
- Eventbrite – find your next networking event or conferences on the Eventbrite platform. You can also create, share, find and attend events online via the platform.
The Verdict: Online networking has become the new normal
Thankfully, it’s still possible to build meaningful relationships and continue expanding your network.
Online networking events makes it fast and easy to find opportunities and connect with other professionals in your industry. You can build connections across the globe as well as within your local community.
During such a challenging time, online networking events are an excellent alternative to in-person events. However, it’s important to remember that online networking isn’t a quick-fix.
You’ll need to put time and effort into attending online networking events. After all, networking doesn’t work till it works.