Contributed by Chantall Luzong
With the health and safety restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, face-to-face networking events have moved to digital platforms to bring communities together. Whilst this kind of set up prevents us from seeing each other in person, it is still possible to build relationships and grow your professional network even if you are in front of the computer. Here’s how you can make the most out of your virtual networking events.
Virtual networking 101: Helpful tips for making connections
1. Establish a clear goal
Before attending any virtual networking event, set your goals first. What do you want to achieve by attending this event? What type of people do you want to connect with?
With clear goals, you will be able to focus on the things that are valuable to you to help you make connections with the right people and at the same time make the most out of the whole event.
2. Create a list of connections
During a virtual networking event, create a list of the attendees. Keep track of their contact details, social media channels, and possibly work background. Pick the people you think are worth connecting to.
3. Connect with them online
Once you have a list of the people you want to get connected to, add them up on digital networking sites like LinkedIn. Before adding them, make sure to send them a message and mention how you know them. This will help you establish a great connection with the right people.
4. Invite them for a (virtual) cup of coffee
Just because we’re at the height of a pandemic doesn’t mean you can’t meet people over a (virtual) cup of coffee. After having several new connections and having started some meaningful conversations with them, invite them to meet with you online.
Busy professionals are likely to have more time these days than usual, so it is a perfect time to ask. Before doing it, give them ideas on how it will go. Tell them the ideas you want to discuss or topics you’d like to talk about. Avoid talking too much about yourself and your products as this may sound too much like a hard sell. Ensure them that the call will be light, fun, and will be beneficial to both parties.
5. Make every connection last
Just like any kind of relationship, a professional bond requires constant nurturing. It is not an overnight kind of thing. Networking takes time and you have to be patient. If you don’t hear back from someone after more than a week or so, follow up with them politely. If you think you had a great conversation over your virtual coffee meeting, send a thank-you message, or wait a bit and see if they want to do it again.
Creating connections during a virtual networking event can be difficult, but it certainly isn’t impossible. With proper goals and professionalism, you can meet and connect with the right people to help you.
Hopefully, these tips help you to make the most out of your next virtual networking event. We look forward to sharing more tips like this with you through the year!