Online Networking Tips

Online Networking Tips

The global pandemic has taught us that wheels can keep turning with the use of Zoom and technology. Nothing was worse than being disengaged with people and not communicating with our fellow business network contacts during the pandemic and we should be grateful for the visionaries that created Zoom and other online platforms which allowed us to continue our networking online.

Networking online is different to networking offline and face to face and here are our tips for networking online to help you either adjust, sharpen up on your existing networking skills or learn something new.

1) IF YOU BOOK IN, ATTEND!
It sounds straight forward enough, but if you book in, make sure you put the meeting in your diary and attend the meeting. People who organise online network meetings will be looking for your attendance and if, for any reason, you are unable to attend or connect to the meeting, make sure you contact the organiser.

2) WEAR HEADPHONES
We recommend wearing a headset or headphones for online meetings as this will add to your concentration level when attending the meeting. It also shows visually that you are engaged and listening to your fellow attendees.

3) MUTE!
Its important to keep muted and be guided by the organiser or meeting leader as to when you should unmute. Don’t take it that the organiser wants to be in ultimate power or lecture you as part of the meeting, it’s to stop background noise interrupting the audio of the meeting to ensure that people are heard and not just seen.

4) HAVE YOUR NAME VISIBLE
So many people join meetings without paying attention to their name displayed on the screen. Would you really attend a face to face network meeting with iPad or Steve’sPhone on your name badge ? So why do people network online without changing their names ?

5) HAVE A SIMPLE BUT CLEAR BACKGROUND
Keep your Zoom background clean, professional and easy to read. You may have your company branding on your background, you may have your website or social media information, but whatever you have, make sure it’s clean, tidy and professional.

6) USE THE CHAT FACILITY
Most online networking platforms include a chat facility. Make sure you use this to cut and paste your contact information in the chat box for others who wish to connect with you. Make sure you include https:// in front of key domain names so people can easily click on during the meeting rather than having to retype or cut and paste into a browser. If you are able to, make sure you save the chat facility and store this somewhere on your PC to ensure you have a record of useful information or contact information from the meeting.

7) FOLLOW UP!
Online or offline networking, the key to getting any good results from networking is in the follow up. Arrange a 121 with people you meet online and take your conversations and online networking to a private zoom meeting or coffee somewhere. If you don’t follow up, you could miss business opportunities, relationship building opportunities and you’ve wasted your time in online networking.

8) TEST YOUR EQUIPMENT WORKS BEFORE ATTENDING THE MEETING
So, you’ve booked an online meeting, but have you tested your equipment works first? Try connecting with your mobile phone with yourself to make sure it all works properly and invest in a headset so you can have calls privately rather than with noise in the background. Most headsets have noise cancelling features and will help to remove unwanted background noise.

9) WHAT IF I HAVE YOUNG PEOPLE AT HOME?
Ok, so you wouldn’t take your son or daughter to a business network meeting, but you will possibly have young people at home during the lockdown period. Our young people don’t understand what we do, day in day out and asking them to keep the noise down during a video call can be challenging. My suggestion is to talk to them and tell them that you need quiet time whilst you are on the video call so you can network effectively. So many people are in the same boat, so if you need to, mute your microphone and even turn your video off for a moment whilst you deal with the children if they decide that very moment, they need you for an emergency! Anyone with children will understand your challenge, so do not let it put you off networking online.

10) LOOK THE PART!
Firstly, and very importantly, make sure you look the part. Remember first impressions count. Would you really attend a face to face meeting with a potential client in your Sunday joggers? By looking the part, even online, you are ready to come across in a professional manner. We are not saying you need to get suited and booted if that is not your usual attire, just make some effort to dress how you would normally to see clients, as that first impression can make all the difference.

11) DO YOU ASK FOR FEEDBACK?
So online networking may be new to us, but are you asking for feedback. Why not ask people if you can hear me ok, should I invest in a better microphone and is my camera at the right angle. It’s key to get this right if you are networking online. You can also check if your background looks ok, is it too salesy or too boring, having feedback means you learn, and the next meeting will go even better.

12) MEETING PREPARATION
We’ve all prepared for meetings with key information and this should be no different if you are networking online or attending meetings with clients. Prepare important key information about your business which you can quickly cut and paste for when people ask for it.
You could produce a Word document with key shortcuts that you can cut and paste into a chat page or access quickly for screen sharing. Maybe your marketing material which you have printed, you could prepare this digitally and ready to send to people online. Have your link to your social media profiles ready, as often people will want to connect via LinkedIn after an online meeting.

13) HOLDING THE ATTENTION OF THOSE IN AN ONLINE MEETING
It’s so easy to leave a web cam running and concentrate on something else whilst attending an online meeting. Yes, we are on camera and yes, we can work on something else and browse the internet, but how do the others know what you are doing when you are on the call. It’s not easy and you could miss vital information if your ears and eyes are elsewhere. This is where you need to be professional and clever. Put yourself in the mindset of a TV presenter, always look down the camera and speak with interest asking open ended questions to attract engagement. Maybe start your questions with saying, “let me share my screen”, or “did you know” so people are engaged and intrigued. It can be done if you think creatively and in the position of your audience.

14) BE POSITIVE
Key for any networking. A smile and positive energy will attract new customers as people will warm to you and want to get to know you further. No-one wants to sit and hear people complaining about a particular topic or subject and positivity is what people are looking for so be that shining light and put a smile on people’s faces.



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