In the last year, the way we work and the way we socialize has changed dramatically. Many people are now working from home as much as possible and things like conferences have either been cancelled or moved online. This has led to a massive gap or hurdle in our ability to network properly.
Networking is an essential tool for many businesses and working professionals. It’s how people bring in new work, find new suppliers and set up new business opportunities. The good news is that this avenue hasn’t completely shut down. It’s just changed, and you need to make sure that you change with it. Here’s how:
- Know What You Bring To The Table
The rules of networking haven’t actually changed, only the place where it’s happening. The first rule is always having something to offer the relationship you’re trying to form. It can’t always be about you and what you need to get out of the arrangement – quid pro quo is not a dirty term.
If you are always looking for help and only make connection with others when you know they can do something for you, people will not be so inclined to help. If you check in with those connections to see how they are without needing anything in return, you’ll be setting up a true relationship that can be beneficial for both of you.
- Go Where The People Are
Again, this is not a new rule to networking. What’s new is how you apply it. With virtual networking and conferencing, you can reach people all over the world. However, it’s best to know what platforms those people are using and make sure you have access to as many of them as possible.
For example, in countries like the UAE, voice calls are restricted via chat apps such as WhatsApp and Skype. In China and several emerging countries where China’s influence is strong, WeChat is the app to use for communication. You should also do your research on the individuals you want to connect with and see if they have a preference for one social media platform over another.
- Learn To Use The Software
With virtual conferences taking the place of in-person events, at least for now, it’s essential that you understand the software being used. Conference organizers have a wealth of options that they could use – Zoom, Teams, Skype, Google. It’s up to you to ensure that you are comfortable with the program before the conference starts. If you can learn the ins and outs of the software, you can confidently engage with panelists, speakers and other attendees.
- Follow Up
As with any networking event, it’s essential to find out more and follow up with the connections you’ve made or the speakers you’ve listened to. In the days of virtual conferences, it’s harder to make connections with other attendees, but you can easily get the names of the speakers and panelists. It’s important to reach out after the event and start the conversation.