Knowing how to network effectively is a powerful tool in today’s modern professional setting. Not only does it give you the opportunity to develop or deepen your professional contacts and references personally, it also provides you with the chance to highlight your company and demonstrate your unique value proposition (UVP) – both as an individual and as the face of your business.
Right now, networking and other business activities look a lot different as people and businesses continue to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It’s likely that these changes are here to stay… at least for a while. Though it’s certainly an adjustment, it’s important to continue pursuing and participating in networking opportunities that could benefit you and/or your business.
Below are three tips to keep in mind as you practice networking amid COVID-19.
1. Become Comfortable with Technology
The pandemic has forced various events and other meetings to take place online. This transition means that professionals must be comfortable and familiar with using platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, etc. While it’s not the same as in-person, showing up and networking virtually still provides a more “face-to-face” and personable feel than a standard phone call.
It’s still important to prepare accordingly for a virtual networking event or meeting. Take the time to learn about others, prepare questions for discussions, do some preliminary research, and have talking points about you and/or your business ready to go. Also, don’t neglect your personal presentation. Be sure to look presentable as you would in real life, and also maintain eye contact and good posture while on camera. Professionalism matters – even online.
2. Update Networking Profiles and Social Media Channels
People are spending more time online now more than ever. Plus, they rely heavily on the Internet for information and resources.
Be sure both your personal and business accounts are as up to date as possible on channels like LinkedIn. It’s also important to ensure all other social media platforms and business listings are updated as well so client/customer prospects, recruiters, colleagues, etc. can get accurate information about you or your business. Consider revising your “about sections”, adding details about services you provide or changes to your business, hours of operation, or add new photos/videos if you have them.
3. Maintain Relationships
Whether it be new relationships you establish during virtual networking activities or existing, long-time connections from years of being in business, be mindful about checking in. The key to building strong and genuine relationships with other professionals, businesses, and/or customers, is showing that you value and think about them, especially during these challenging times.
When communicating with your connections, listen and, if possible, offer to provide value where you can. An excellent communicator spends most of their time actively listening. Let others talk about themselves and their work and ask questions that show you are paying attention. (Remember Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”?) Nourishing the rapport and bonds you develop via networking can be beneficial in the long run.
We understand – networking alone can seem like a tedious, time-consuming process. In the aftermath of a global pandemic, it may seem even more overwhelming. However, when done right, networking can be rewarding and advantageous. Ultimately, it allows the opportunity to connect with other professionals in your field, grow your network, and teach others about your business.