2020 is the Year everyone learned to Network Virtually
Networking in person is hard enough, but knowing how to network virtually can be extremely difficult. I would liken it to cold calling. There aren’t too many people around that think cold calling is the best thing since sliced bread. I am not a fan. But, networking virtually is not anywhere near as hard as cold calling. In fact, I promote the theory that to network virtually can help you warm up cold calls.
Let’s examine my list of options:
- Sign up for LinkedIn – and not only sign-up but get some help to optimize your profile (hint – I can help you with that.) LinkedIn is the largest professional network. At the time of this writing, there were 690M+ users on the platform with 169M+ in the US. Click here for the current stats. Granted there are a bunch of duplicate profiles out there because people forget how to access or lose access, but this gives you a huge pool of professionals from which to choose to build your personal network.
- Build the relationships you have – networking is akin to marketing. You need to get your name out in front of people for them to remember who you are. Use the tools at your disposal in Facebook or LinkedIn to be in touch. Wish people happy birthday, congratulate them on work anniversaries, promotions, or new positions. If you see an article that may be of interest to someone share it and tag that person in the comment.
- Take it off-line – building upon the last comment above, if you see something really compelling to share with someone, send it in an email AND, take it off line and make a phone call to talk to the person about your idea.
- Text – if you don’t have time for a phone conversation, send a text. Schedule a chat for later.
- Physical to Virtual Networking – many groups have had to change from meeting in person to meeting over one of the many apps available these days. You may be “Zoomed” out, but it is a great way to continue to keep your presence in front of your network.
- Allocate Time – did you meet someone in a webinar or virtual networking meeting? Can’t meet in-person for a “coffee meeting”? Try to schedule something virtually. So many options are available: Zoom, Google Hangouts or Google Meet, Facetime for iPhone users, What’s App, and Facebook Messenger all give you free options to hold a video meeting. Then there are the other platforms that are subscription based – Zoom, WebEx, Adobe Connect and so many others. Take the time to schedule a virtual sit-down with someone new.
- Tweetchats – This is an opportunity to participate in a forum type conversation in certain industries. Here is a schedule to check. Get to know who people are by their Twitter handle, AND in the meantime, learn some new things in your industry.
- Meet new people – so the people you met in the Tweetchat – perhaps connect with them on LinkedIn. You never know what sort of business relationship might develop. Use the advanced search functions to look for 2nd degree connections on LinkedIn who seem interesting and may be able to provide guidance, leadership, or information, OR just be someone worth having a chat with virtually.
- Join Groups – this is a good idea in person and virtually. Find a group on Meet-Up, LinkedIn, Facebook or Eventbrite. Other organizations that are career related may have a virtual presence as well. Participate in virtual conversation threads and when possible attend in-person events.
Now that you have a few tools to try, it may be easier to network virtually. I always say, “It isn’t about who you know, but who they know!” When you are talking with your existing network, take the extra step and ask if they know anyone to whom they could recommend you. Pay it forward and introduce your connections to someone that could use their talent or service. Now go, spread your wings and your network virtually!
Customize your LinkedIn URL for better traffic
Why would you want to customize your LinkedIn URL? Does your LinkedIn public profile link look like this – http://linkedIn.com/in/someonesname-9482048q8488974
or like this (with your name of course) >>> If it doesn’t follow these directions or watch the quick how-to video below.
Step 1 – Go to Profile > Edit Profile
Step 2 – Find the URL in the box below your image
Step 3 – Select Edit
Step 4 – In the right hand column find the box that says “Customize your public profile URL”
Step 5 – Type in your name – no caps or spaces. You may need to add a middle initial or a number to your name. If you must add a number, use one that is significant to you, not just the ones that LinkedIn suggests.
Step 6 – Add the link to your resume, other on-line profiles, business cards (networking cards)
You can view a how-to video on how to customize your LinkedIn URL on YouTube by clicking below.
Where else would a customized LinkedIn URL come in handy? Do people connect to you or your business? If they can find you directly, it may make the difference in landing that next big contract or job!
I attend a great deal of networking events. Often you go around the room with introductions. What starts out as succinct introductions can turn into a life story. Sometimes if you attend multiple events, your introduction might turn into a robotic statement.
One group I attend often asks for your introduction and then answer a fun question so that attendees get to know the personal side of you better. It seems that when the speaker has completed talking about their income generating life and starts into the fun side their enthusiasm is reflected in their body language and vocal cues. How can you represent that same enthusiasm with your introduction about your job?
Conquering the right way to deliver your elevator pitch can be a challenge. Do you have enough time to deliver meaning in 30 seconds? One group limited the introduction to name, company and 3 words that describe what you do. This is great to make you think about the best 3 words that describe your business. If they are keywords that is even better. Use them everywhere in your marketing to promote yourself on your website or social media.
Sometimes though, we do need to have that 30 second elevator pitch in our pocket. Use the tips from this article How To Perfect Your Elevator Pitch. To stay on point – but avoid the robotics!
Which method do you prefer when giving your introductions?
I’ve written about networking in the past. But it bears repeating. As much as I LOVE social media and especially LinkedIn, I realize that you cannot ignore face to face networking.
Recently, I met with a gentleman that called me based on a referral from one of his connections. When I walked into my office away from office, a Panera, I immediately recognized the man with whom I was about to meet. We had both been at a local chamber networking event. He had been drawn to my booth display and wanted to find out more, but was pulled in several directions and we never were able to connect.
As we chatted, we discovered that our goals and desires to further our business were similar and that we could become excellent referral partners for each other.
The following article was written with job seekers in mind, but from my point of view, everyone could benefit from the suggestions that it makes. 6 Ways To Beat The Ugly Networking Stigma
Here are my questions to you –
- Do you network face-to-face?
- What do you gain from your networking?
- Do you look at networking as a chore or a pleasure?
- When you network, do you enter into the arena with the pay-it-forward philosophy?
- If you can’t do business with someone, can you become a power partner or referral partner with them?
- Do you expect immediate results from your networking activities?
Networking can help you find a job or find a business contact. This article 4 Steps to Getting the Most Out of Networking addresses a couple of key points. Here is my perspective:
Attending networking events for me serves 2 purposes:
- To refresh the memory of the people that I know that I am “around”. When they see my face, they remember – hopefully – what I do and that by seeing me, they may need to reach out to me for the service I provide or the product that I sell.
- To meet new contacts to find out how I can help them or how they might in turn be able to assist me.
Do you spend time talking and chatting with the people that you know? Smaller groups that you attend regularly can present a challenge. You have gotten to know many of the regular attendees and some individuals tend to gravitate toward the people they know. This scenario fulfills the first of my purposes. It lets me check in with someone or perhaps have a brief conversation face-to-face that I had been hoping to accomplish. It might even allow you to close a deal!
Alternatively, do you reach out to the new face in the crowd? Many groups, especially chambers of commerce, have ambassadors who help the new person meet people within the group. People who tend toward introversion may have difficulty in groups without ambassadors. Personally, I like to go up to the person standing by themselves and introduce myself. Those of you who know me, know I am so shy (wink wink).
Are you like the bee and float from flower to flower, or do you spend time trying to get to know the new person you just met?
Once you meet that new person, what do you do? Not everyone is going to be your ideal prospect, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t connected with someone who is. When I teach LinkedIn, my mantra is – it’s not about who you know, it’s about who they know.
We all know we need to network whether it is in-person or on-line. What is your favorite approach? What is your favorite follow-up process?