4 TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE VIRTUAL NETWORKING
The importance of staying connected to our friends, family and community is one of the key drivers of our happiness. When you are connected to a group and feel responsible for other people, that sense of purpose and meaning nourishes the mind, body and soul.
Relating to the world of work, many women, whether full-time employees, entrepreneurs or freelancers and everything in between, rely heavily on staying connected via their network to keep our livelihood going.
The way we network right now may look different, but the same sound principles of connecting with others and offering value still apply. Here are a few ways to continue to connect and stay relevant with your prospects, clients, referral sources and other contacts.
Initiate a Virtual Meeting
Make a list of your top 10 prospects, clients, past clients, referral sources and influencers. At this stage in your life, you have already laid the groundwork to have a strong network so that you remain top of mind. So now is the time to cultivate that network – just in a new way. See if you can initiate a meeting with them either online or on the phone to discuss how you might be a resource to them. The emphasis should be on networking and helping each other vs. making a sales call. Initiate the next step and see if you can get another meeting to develop the relationship.
Send Strategic and Intentional Emails
Make a list of people you want to know better to grow your network. Start with your top 10 and then create a super strategic and intentional personalized email to each. No group emails or mass mailing here. Personalize the subject line with their name and offer to connect online to get to know them more and be of value in any way you can. The personal touch allows you to stand out from all the noise out there.
Create an Online Virtual Networking Group
Develop a list of the top 5 to 10 people that are your favorites in your network and schedule a date for all t meet online. Platforms like Zoom make it easy. You want to make sure there is a theme and agenda that offers value to everyone that joins. Send a calendar invite with a link to make it easy for them to join the call. You might find that with this smaller, select group of people you engage in a more meaningful way than if you were trying to connect with people at a large in-person networking event.
Make a Phone Call
Did I just hear a gasp? Yes, that dial pad on your phone actually works to call and talk to other human beings! Reach out to networking contacts you already know and schedule a time to talk on the phone to collaborate and help one another. People have a little more time now and will welcome the chance to hear another voice. I am not suggesting cold calls but calls to people you already know where you can actually listen, converse and share hope and resources. Best of all, it’s free, and it works!
While nothing is as fun as grabbing lunch with someone in your network, now is the ideal time to make connections with current and future clients, vendors, coworkers and even potential employers. Once the hiring and buying process begins in earnest again, we may see a distinct separation between those who have continued to participate in the business conversation via virtual networking and those who spent quarantine hunkering down and waiting for opportunities to come to them. Virtual networking truly provides us with a way to maintain current connections, and even make new ones that could continue to show benefits in the far-reaching future.
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” — Brene Brown