How to Network Virtually
The days of striding purposefully into a conference room, finding the nearest co-attendee and thrusting out your hand and business card while striking up a conversation about the event you're attending, are pretty much gone now.
Even before the global pandemic, this way of networking was becoming outdated. With the arrival of platforms such as LinkedIn and Remo (virtual conferencing software), the need for in-person interaction in order to build networks and connections was becoming less prevalent.
So how do you succeed in these virtual networking spaces? Well, networking is networking, regardless of whether it’s done in a physical face-to-face environment or a virtual one.
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So, we have 5 tips to help you be as successful in the virtual space as you would be in a physical location.
1. Have a strategy
Knowing what you want to achieve from networking can help you to chart your course to success. Ask yourself questions like “who and how can I help?”
Notice how this isn’t about you or what you want? If you have a strategy to get to know the people in your network and be a helpful, friendly resource for others, then you are more likely to build a good network of stable connections rather than coming across as pushy or salesy.
2. Do a network analysis
Sitting down and taking apart your network can be really helpful. By seeing exactly who is included within your current network, you can see who is missing or what types of people you need in order to have a good, diverse network of people around you.
Be picky, too. It isn’t about adding anyone and everyone into your LinkedIn pool. That will only get you clogged up with unnecessary contacts who aren’t going to get you into the right conversations.
It is not about trying to befriend everyone. It’s not Facebook, it is for your professional growth. So do your research and connect with the right people.
3. Have a profile that is interesting
People make judgements very quickly nowadays and having a profile that grabs the attention of passing potential connections is key.
Do this by ensuring that your tagline is up to date, your profile picture is clear and engaging and that you have a personal paragraph to give people a quick idea of who you are. And not just from a professional point of view, but who you are as a person.
This can make virtual networking feel less clinical and gives some starting information to those looking to build a connection with you.
4. Have something to say
There is an awful lot of content out there now. Everyone has multiple platforms on which to form and broadcast opinions. Which is wonderful, provided you have something to say.
Showcasing original content, or at least sharing it in an interesting way, means you are more likely to get noticed in the huge throng of shifting voices, opinions, debates and thoughts of other connections, all crying for attention.
Be different, or voice things in a different way. Make yourself stand out by owning your content and voice and try to bring something new; whether that is through being helpful, criticizing, insightful or just innovative.
5. Stay connected with follow-ups
Communication is key. People quickly see through those connections who are just in it for leads.
So stay in contact with your network. Send them messages to check-in, or articles that made you think of them. Show them that you want to interact with them on more levels than just the initial meet and greet period and then any subsequent sales pitches you might throw their way.
Be as much a person online as you would in a face-to-face, physical environment. This is where it counts, in building your interaction and relationships with your network, so you can grow it organically.