Knock ’Em Dead at Your Next Virtual Networking Event
Will we continue networking virtually once “all this” (the pandemic) ends?
More than likely.
So if you feel that your remote networking abilities aren’t as great as they should be, read on.
The one great thing that IRL events have that virtual networking events will never have?
The ability to chat one-on-one with someone before, during, or after the event. After all, only one person at a time can talk in a Zoom meeting. (Although Zoom breakout rooms are, in our opinion, excellent functionality!)
- You need to prepare your intro and prepare it well.
You know what we’re talking about: the short (maybe 30-seconds long) bio you share with people when you meet them for the first time.
Your intro should be concise. Think elevator pitch: describe your background and why you’re at the event: what you want to get from it.
“Hi, I’m Diana Esposito, and I’m the Director of Analytics with XYZ Company. I’m interested in learning as much as possible about other companies and their best practices for managing their remote teams. I’m really looking forward to meeting every one of you over time.”
- Add value by being a connector and listening well.
If someone mentions something that you can help them with, speak up! Maybe they’re looking to speak to someone in your industry. Perhaps you know of someone in another industry with whom you think they should connect.
Offer to connect them with someone you know. Be as specific as possible as to what your connection can offer. Ask them to place their contact info in the chat area of the meeting. Then, soon after the meeting, email or text the person to let them know you’ll follow up with your contact. Once you do so, let them know how to contact your connection.
You’ll also want to be sure to ask questions during the event (more on this, below), but make sure you listen well to the conversation and provide info/ask questions of value for everyone, not just yourself.
- Jot down some questions before the meeting that you can use to get conversations going.
Remember that open-ended questions (those that don’t require yes or no answers) are the best to get people talking and providing information. For example: “What’s the number one issue in your industry right now?” Or “What do you think most people want in their careers in your industry?”
If you can’t think of any questions, as other people speak, you can ask, “Why is that the case?” Or “How specifically did you do that?”
- Respect the chat box
How many times have you put something in the chat to EVERYONE but intended it for one person in particular? It could be rather embarrassing, right? A good rule of thumb for a virtual networking event is to ONLY use the chat for general comments. If you have friends or co-workers at the event, follow up with them afterwards for any personal chats.
- Remember the details of those with whom you networked for future outreach. And….reach out!
You’re probably not going to be able to “meet” as many people in a virtual networking event as you would an in-person event. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to people later with whom you’d didn’t interact.
Take note of who is there and plan to reach out to some of them after the meeting. Remember their ideas and comments, and make sure to tailor your post-event outreach to specifics.
(If you don’t have contact info for someone, reach out to the event organizer and ask for it. Or check the person out on LinkedIn and ask for a connection. Include a message in your connection request mentioning that you attended the networking event.)
Your post-meeting outreach should be personalized: “Hello, Jean. I attended XYZ Networking Event this morning, and I thought your comment about the need for ABC was spot on. This is something I’d love to help with. Perhaps we could brainstorm together about how we could 123?”
Don’t be shy; be bold. Ask for what you want. Talk about your experiences. Offer to help others.
Speaking of boldness…
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