If the events of the last 2 years have taught us anything, it’s that we can still do business, and do it well, while working remotely from home and connecting and collaborating with people online. There are many benefits to Online Networking, including the convenience and low cost, as well as possibilities to network and interact with businesses globally. (Check out our blog on the Benefits of Online Networking here). And while we’ve all learnt a lot in the way of ‘online etiquette’ and different software packages, we still need to be aware of a few things before diving straight in.
Here’s a few tips and tricks for getting the most from networking online.
- Get clear on your desired outcome – What exactly do you want to achieve from online networking? As a business owner, you might say you want to get more referrals, but go deeper than that – why do you want more referrals? Establish your goals, and you will be much more likely to achieve a positive outcome. Understanding your intention from the outset will help you find the right platform, the right networking groups and ultimately, the right connections.
- Be prepared – Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because it’s online you can ‘wing it’. As a business owner or entrepreneur, you should always be prepared with your engaging, short and sharp introduction and pitch that tells everyone what you do. And make sure you are consistent across all of your social media profiles. People you are connecting with will look you up if they are considering taking a relationship further, so having a consistent profile could make all the difference.
- Engage with others and show some vulnerability – By engage, we really mean listen. Don’t just go to an online networking event to ‘sell your stuff’! Just like face-to-face, online networking is about creating relationships. Although the subtleties of body language are not so easily seen online, people still want to engage with those who show they are listening and interested. Likewise, showing some vulnerability and asking questions you genuinely want answered will allow others to support you and that will make you more memorable.
- Aim to give more than you receive – Networking really is about finding ways to support each other. As business owners, we are all looking for ways to expand our knowledge and our network, both professionally and personally. If you are more knowledgeable in certain areas than others, then share that knowledge freely. As in all relationships, to establish a bond and connection, people want to know you are there to serve others, and in turn, they will serve and remember you. If you want value from your networking groups, you really must give value first.
- Create relationships by following up online contacts – If you’ve made some good connections during an online event, go the extra step and request a one-to-one meeting. Get the details of the people you want to connect with and organise a personal Zoom, LinkedIn or even face-to-face meeting if you can. Always keep in mind your desired outcome (which you clarified earlier), and remember to consider how you can add value to any relationship. It really is important to form a relationship with the people who resonate with you outside of the online event where you connected.
And what about ‘online etiquette’? If you’ve done any networking at all, you’re sure to have seen some changes in the way people behave online since the beginning of the pandemic. In the early days, we heard stories of people networking in their pyjamas and slippers, or standing up from behind their desks while forgetting they were in their underwear, but is this still acceptable in today’s business world? We think not! Here’s a few do’s and don’ts for a little online etiquette:
Do – Test your audio and video before starting and make sure your software is up to date. Take online networking seriously and be prepared.
Don’t – …..get flustered and interrupt if your software has a glitch. Glitches are commonplace in the online world with connection to the Internet not always perfect, so send a DM to the host and try disconnecting and then reconnecting if you encounter problems.
Do – Mute your microphone if you’re not speaking. This avoids the problem of accidently talking over someone else, or interrupting a speaker if a family member suddenly turns on Metallica at full blast in the next room.
Don’t – …..forget you are on mute when it’s your turn to talk.
Do – Have a pleasing background that’s not too distracting. Nobody wants to see your underwear drying on a rack in the background!
Don’t – ….let random people or pets create havoc. Close the door if you value the content and the people in the online event.
Do – Be well presented. Looking business-like online will have an effect on your mindset and give you more confidence.
Don’t – …..use the platform like a mirror and comb your hair or check your make-up while you are engaging online.
Do – Remember to smile, check your posture and body language, and pay attention when others are speaking.
Don’t – ….look at yourself when talking on screen, or look away for long periods of time when others are talking.
Some of the above may seem pretty obvious but are not always in the front of mind when preparing for networking online. It’s such a great way to connect these days, so it’s worth taking seriously and being fully prepared.
So are you looking for ways to improve your online networking or to find ways to connect with a bigger global network? Scalepreneurs has been established to support entrepreneurs and business owners to expand their network and has been specifically developed for businesses to connect and find ways to scale on a global level.
If you want to know more, our (virtual) door is always open, so drop by and find out how you can connect with influential, inspiring and motivating people from multiple countries across the world.