In a world of social distancing, many professionals have adapted to virtual networking and events. For those motivated to do so, they can attend virtual networking events just about every day. This is great way to meet new people and keep in touch with colleagues and business contacts. It really is a beneficial alternative while we are unable to meet in person. Just like “traditional” networking, it should only be done with a purpose. At the end of the day, the point of networking is to make connections and referrals. It is about doing business.
Not Getting Results
Whether through Zoom or at the Chamber of Commerce mixer, are you having networking success? It is frustrating to invest a lot of your time without results. The lack of success has a lot to do with planning. You should know exactly why you are attending an event. Without an answer, skip the event. You do not have time to waste. Right? We all have said to ourselves, “well that was a waste of time.” Likewise, have you ever been overcome with dread before the start of an event? Do you look for reasons to blow it off at the last minute? Again, a plan will relieve this stress.
Networking = Connections
You should have a plan for every event. The plan does not need to be elaborate. It can be as simple as meeting one new person. Or, to reconnect with someone from the past. It can be more specific such as meeting the host of the meeting or an accountant. It just depends on what type of people should be added to your network. This brings up a point. If you are a litigator who gets referrals from non-litigators, maybe you want to spend your time networking at bar association events.
Every Event Should Have a Next Step
After each event, in-person or online, you should have at least one-follow-up activity. At least one – hopefully, many more than that. The following are samples of appropriate next steps.
- Be a connector. This means introduce somebody you met to somebody else in your network.
- Connect with people on LinkedIn and other social media channels.
- Add new contacts to your marketing list/CRM.
- Schedule a one-on-one coffee or Zoom.
- Send a “nice to meet you” note.
- Send them something of interest. For example, you learned that he was a Syracuse basketball fan. Email an article on the team, or a congrats if they actually win a game, etc.
The items above lay out a process. Any process should fit your style and needs. Therefore, there is no perfect process. If you are being strategic and using your resources wisely, any process will do. The point of networking is to make new connections. Then your process takes you from introduction to eventually making money. These people will ultimately become clients or referral sources for new business. To sum the point of networking – it is about actually making connections, referring, and doing business. If you do not get these results, we can help you with networking strategies.