Updated: Aug 11, 2021
Things might be opening up again, but online meetings seem here to stay. Now that we’ve all got used to meeting online, digital networking events offer the potential to meet an array of people who would have been completely out of your orbit through physical networking. Here are some top tips to take advantage of digital networking.
1. Carry Cards – you might not be able to hand out a business card, but most video conference systems allow you to use a virtual background. Create a digital business card to have behind you, even in non-business-related meetings. You never know what conversations may be sparked.
2. Join things – LinkedIn and Facebook groups cover a massive range of activities and interests. Have a search of key words for the type of people you want to network with. There are also dedicated networking events, both locally and further afield. See what you can find!
3. Volunteer – once you’ve found a group, be active in it. Comment on other people’s posts and create your own posts. If the group is looking for an admin, consider volunteering. Anything that gets you chatting to someone is good.
4. Ask questions – this one applies to in-person and online events. If you’re at a presentation, think of a good question and ask it. You will seem engaged and people will remember you when there comes a time for more informal chatting.
5. Look the part – online you can get away with more than in person. But if you do decide not to wear trousers, remember not to stand up!
6. Wear a badge – digital conference systems tend to automatically display your name. Usually this is whatever name you signed up with, but it can be a good idea to be intentional about the information you are showing to everyone. Include your business name and your position, or, if appropriate, throw in an emoji or two to spark conversation. Just remember, if you were meeting with friends for few drinks and changed your name to something embarrassing… change it back before the meeting starts!
7. Shake hands – though no one has been shaking hands for the last 18 months, your online greeting should still be as firm and enthusiastic as your handshake: smile and try to make “eye-contact” (look at the camera not the screen). It also makes a good impression to use their name when you greet someone. Not only does this make you seem much more interested in them and your conversation, but it will help you to remember their name later on!
8. Listen – the key to networking is listening to someone else. Ask them about their views and their ambitions and actually listen to their answer. While online, make sure you’re not distracted by other things on screen when they’re talking. It’s so easy to quickly click on a Facebook notification but it’s almost always obvious to the person you’re talking to that they have lost your attention.
9. Move on – you might not have a choice with this one. You can’t politely excuse yourself to talk to someone across the room very easily at online events. But, try to talk to as many people as you can. Endless breakout rooms might be tiring, but hang in there! You never know who is waiting to meet you in that last room.
10. Take notes – take a moment to record what you’ve said, heard or (especially) promised to do; otherwise, you’ll have forgotten by tomorrow morning. Online, you can do this much more inconspicuously and, the next day, you can impress everyone with your excellent memory!
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