In-person networking is already challenging as it is.
Walking up to someone you have probably never met before in an event, hoping to break the ice, and get into a mutually-interesting conversation takes a lot of grit. That, however, is nothing compared to navigating the world of virtual networking.
It sounds easier, though.
After all, you don’t have to worry about physically meeting the person anymore and you can now filter out unwanted contacts. However, you now have added variables to consider, like technology, tone of message, etc..
Fortunately, it is not rocket science either.
Here are some Tips and Resources for better virtual networking and maintaining of contacts during a growing digital landscape.
Understand the Technology
Perhaps the most underrated piece of advice during virtual networking events is understanding the technology of the event itself.
Are you using Zoom, Skype, or any other platform, make sure to have tested it out in advance. This is especially true if you do not have any prior experience with such a platform.
It can also help to look online for guides specific to the tech you will be using. That way, you know how best to maximize the features of such a platform to get the best out of your time.
Don’t be the person that joins the virtual networking event late.
There is no sin in coming late to the party. No one might even notice. But you will be missing the advantage of being one of the early birds.
While waiting for more people to join, introduce yourself, and interact with each person as they enter the conference room. Try to determine which contact is worth pursuing a professional relationship with and engage them in a conversation. You don’t need to go all out at this stage, but you should start making your mark subtly.
The early bird gets the worm…or best impression in this case.
Have an Intro Ready
Virtual events try to ensure inclusivity by allowing individual introductions.
You have two options here:
- Perfect your ideal introduction well before time, something that will resonate well with your audience
- Come up with an intro in the spur of the moment and risk ruining it all.
We don’t need to check with a crystal ball to know that the first is the best bet any day. However, if you work best under pressure, then I say go for it, ya extrovert.
To the introverts in the back, yes you. Think about what kind of foot you want to put forward first. Consider what you want the audience to know about you as the event kicks off. Work that into a short and concise intro, and be ready to deliver it to the waiting audience.
Know the Audience
This is not a blind date.
You will have the chance to review all the delegates/ companies that will be in attendance, depending on what kind of virtual networking event this is. Review all of them to identify the people you want to interact with.
Now, let us step back for a moment to correct something.
We have seen people go to these events just to interact with who they strictly had in mind. While it is fine to know what networks you want to build, it doesn’t hurt to be flexible also. Stay open to any possibilities that might come your way lest you miss out on some of the rarest ones on that day.
Now that we have that out of the way…
Seek out Contact Information
There are two ways to get contact information within a virtual networking space.
- you can ask the person you are conversing with directly. You must have established some rapport and basic relationship at this stage so that this goes as smoothly as possible.
- the virtual networking event host could ask everyone to share their contact details.
In the case of the latter, be on the lookout for the contact information which you are out to get. If you have truly researched your audience as stated above, you will know which contact info to target straight out of the box.
Have Something to Say
One of the cons of virtual networking is that it relies mostly on what you say to make a lasting impression. Do you remember that guest speaker who spoke on one of your favorite topics in school/ a seminar? Guess why they remain fresh in your memory? Well, we just said that they spoke on one of your favorite topics.
Sometimes, it doesn’t take more than that to live in people’s heads, rent-free.
A quality audience research means that you know what your target audience is interested in. Get a better understanding of what’s new and trending in your field. Any topic you want to weigh in on should be something you are truly knowledgeable in, that way you can connect with people in your industry, as well as, appear as an authority in your field to outside parties.
Since that is what you are also going for, why not package some thought-provoking questions for them?You could also do your research so that you have something meaningful to contribute to the conversations.
This is about the most important thing to do.
Many professionals and industry leaders have a lot of things on their minds. We would not be surprised if they had to jump on another conference call and attend yet another virtual networking event after finishing one.
In short, they might not remember all of the people that they met during that event by the end of the day. This is where your follow-up comes in.
Don’t be generic with your follow up message. You could remind them about something that you both discussed, reference something intriguing that they mentioned or call their attention to a question you had.
This gives you a foot in the door. It also beats sending an email that will soon be forgotten like others who are also trying the follow-up technique.
For some more reading, look through our email follow-up templates here for some inspiration.
Make it Count
Following the tips above gets you a front-row seat into better virtual networking. Start incorporating them today and you stand to reap massive dividends from your virtual networking events.