Remember the feeling of connecting in-person with a new potential client? The handshake, greeting, hand-off of the business card, followed by the hopeful next meeting. Those were the days. Those are the days we hope will return soon.
Just a year ago, networking was fluid. It casually happened in passing without force. We felt comfortable sharing with those around us physically. Now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems networking has become awkward while attending virtual events. Why? Maybe because we miss the pleasantries and spontaneity of face-to-face interactions.
If you agree that networking online is not always easy, here are some ways to conquer that uncomfortable feeling and make the most of your connections.
No one else is talking, but everyone is watching.
It can be daunting when you turn on your camera and everyone is looking at you, but no one wants to be the first to ask a question or start a conversation. It is easy to hide behind your screen during a virtual event. Or, how about there are 50 attendees in the meeting and there is one person you want to talk to, but it would not be appropriate to call them out on video in front of everyone. To curb this problem, try using the chat setting if the event allows, either directly to the person you wish to speak with, or to the host to facilitate a more structured networking conversation.
Online networking is impersonal.
It might feel that talking over a video lacks what an in-person conversation has, but when done right, it can be just as beneficial. Attend virtual networking events that are fluid, like the Chamber’s Finally Fridays and After Hours events. Conversations happen without structure. Everyone provides an introduction of themselves, which sets the stage for more commentary. Attendees ask the questions, and the event is more organic. We also suggest throwing in a networking game or prizes to get everyone warmed up.
Many, if not all, of our events are online these days, but that does not mean they have to be any less impactful as an in-person event. By letting attendees easily join networking opportunities where they are encouraged to ask question and make connection, attendees will be eager to join in again in the future. Try making the most of virtual network. You might be surprised who you connect with.
Ready to try virtual networking?
In today’s business world, leaders prefer to make transactions with those they trust. Get to know people who can help you grow your business – that’s the goal of networking. Members enjoy year-round opportunities to meet colleagues and potential business prospects at events that serve to connect your business to others in the community.
Our monthly networking events are a great starting point to test your comfort with virtual networking. These offer structured introductions, followed by casual conversation. Novice and expert networkers both enjoy these opportunities to connect with business professionals in a fun, and easy format.