A year ago business networking was very different. You could be in a room talking to countless people about your business and what you do.
But with everything that has happened over the past 6 months, networking, like most things, has completely changed. Events in a pub or restaurant are now no longer possible. This has been replaced by events taking place over video applications such as Zoom.
But just because business networking is different doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be taking it just as seriously.
Here are some great tips on how to virtually network effectively.
The great thing about virtual networking is that there aren’t any geographical boundaries. You can speak to people from pretty much anywhere around the world. However, you should still do a bit of homework because it’s important that you attend an event which is right for you in terms of what you want your business to achieve.
You could start by putting in relevant search terms into google such as ‘virtual business networking events in …. ‘ Or ‘ virtual business networking events the UK’. This will get you started.
Alternatively, you could always take a look at Eventbrite as they will list many events on their platform which you can see here.
It’s highly likely that at a virtual networking event, you will be asked to talk about yourself and your business. And just as IRL (in real life) you will need to be prepared. Organisations and event organisers vary, but normally you will be asked to provide a pitch that lasts between 30 and 60 seconds. So it’s important not to go over this allotted time.
We would recommend practicing and timing yourself beforehand. You could do this in the mirror, to your family and friends or whichever way you feel comfortable. Once you have this pitch ‘down to a t’ you’ll feel much more confident about what you are saying.
The great thing about networking, in general, is that even if no one at the event can directly help you, someone might be able to refer you to a person who can. This is why it’s very important that in the event you are absolutely clear about what you want.
Have a think: do you want referrals; more customers; or to target a particular type of person or specialised industry to help you? Whatever it is you’re after remember to be clear from the outset, you will stand a better chance of achieving your aims.
You’ve probably all heard stories of video calls being interrupted by screaming children, dogs or other family members in the background. Whilst this can provide some entertainment to proceedings, it’s probably best that you try and avoid unnecessary interruptions as much as you can.
Try and find a quiet part of your house or flat to do the event. Make it clear to whoever you’re living with (family, flatmates etc) that you are not to be disturbed during this time. This will make it far less likely that anyone will interrupt you.
Remember that even though you’re not in a strictly professional setting, you should still try and show that you’re making an effort. So whilst putting on a pinstripe suit might be a bit much, you probably shouldn’t be in your pyjamas either (as tempting as it might be). If you look prepared you're more likely to take it seriously.
If you are attending an event thinking solely about getting business immediately then you're likely to be disappointed.
Don’t expect to get immediate business from other attendees, especially in this uncertain economic climate. Instead, what you should be doing is using these events to create connections.
Maybe there is someone you speak to who does something similar to you who could offer some helpful advice. Perhaps they even have a great story to tell about themselves which you find interesting.
The more you think about creating relationships, and valuing others at your meeting, the better chance you have of achieving positive results for your business.
In a virtual networking group, what usually happens is that attendees get taken to private rooms to speak to each other for around 5-10 mins. This is an excellent opportunity to have a more in depth conversation and create connections. Sometimes these conversations may go nowhere, which is fine. But you may just strike gold.
If that is the case then we would strongly suggest following up with this person for a longer chat over Zoom, WhatsApp or even for a socially distanced coffee (providing they live close by).
Make sure you get their email address or phone number by private messaging that individual during the meeting.
However, you are adapting to the ‘new normal’ the team at takepayments hope you are staying safe and well during this strange time.
If you’re looking for more useful tips you can take a look at some of our helpful blogs which are jam-packed with guidance and advice to help you.