The world in the palm of your hand with virtual networking

Top 10 Tips for Successful Virtual Networking

networking personal growth professional growth Feb 01, 2023

Like it or not, virtual networking is here to stay. In this post, I share my top tips to make the most of your virtual networking experience.

There are many benefits to virtual networking, including expanded reach beyond your local community and eliminated travel time and associated costs. while it isn't quite the same as in-person networking, I've found that I'm able to build deep connections virtually by following up and arranging a one-on-one zoom call after the networking event.  

Tip 1 – Plan Ahead

  • Set a SMART goal for your networking for the next 12 months
  • Identify the profile/s of the people you’d like to meet
  • Look online and find out what events/online groups could be a good fit for you
  • Note when the groups you’re interested in meet and block off time in your calendar
  • Research the format of the event so you know what to expect
  • Remember to register for the events you want to attend
  • Put the event and meeting link in your calendar (note if the link will be sent later)
  • Have a succinct and interesting answer when someone says “Tell me about you”

Tip 2 – Be Ready with Your Setup

  • Plan to attend the event with video on
  • Never sit with a window behind you (you will be backlit and in shadow)
  • Find a lighting solution that works for you (e.g. halo lamp or other)
  • Think about your background – is it pleasing or messy?
  • Only use a virtual background if you can sit relatively still 
  • Wear ear buds to reduce noise
  • Ideally connect from a laptop or desktop
  • Know how to edit your name, mute yourself and turn your video on and off
  • Use your full name so people can easily find you later
  • Have your LinkedIn address ready to copy into the chat

Tip 3 – Arrive Early for the Meeting

  • Plan to arrive at least 5 minutes before the meeting starts
  • Test the link to sure you’re able to connect to the meeting room
  • Test your video and sound have some to make sure they’re working well
  • Refresh your memory about your introduction
  • Have some conversation starters ready
  • Take some nice deep breaths and try to relax
  • Remember to smile as you enter the virtual room
  • If the host admits you early, thank them and tell them you’re happy to be there

Tip 4 – Think About Your Appearance

  • Remember you never get a second chance to create a first impression
  • Dress appropriately for the people you’ll be meeting
  • Consider checking with the host or a past participant about the typical dress code
  • If you wear makeup, consider wearing a little extra – lights and cameras can wash you out
  • Although people may only see your top half on video, avoid PJ bottoms and sweats
  • If wearing jewellery, choose shorter necklaces/beads
  • Choose a top/jacket that looks attractive when you’re sitting down
  • Avoid wearing stripes, busy patterns and textures

Tip 5 – Have a Compelling Introduction

  • Introduce yourself in a way that makes others want to learn more
  • Tell people what problem/s you solve for others or in your workplace
  • Be prepared to talk about why you’re qualified to do this work
  • Share the difference you make in the lives of others or in your workplace
  • Tweak your introduction until it feels totally natural and authentic
  • Practice your introduction
  • Have 2 versions of your introduction – a 30-second and a 60-second version
  • Practice, practice, practice your introduction until it flows naturally

Tip 6 – Bring Your Most Positive Self

  • Forget everything else that’s happened in your day and focus on being present
  • Tell yourself that this will be an enjoyable event and that you’re looking forward to it
  • Smile – you’ll put others at ease
  • Try to keep the conversation focused on positive things
  • If someone is on a negative path, redirect with a positive open-ended question

“What’s one of the things you most enjoy about the work you do?”

“What advice would you give your younger self if you could travel back in time?”

“What's something you're looking forward to this year?"

Tip 7 – Be Generous and Considerate

  • Be aware of the time constraints – don’t monopolise all the breakout time for yourself
  • In a breakout room, if others are hesitant to start, offer be the first to speak
  • Offer to keep time with your phone – show a count-down 30 secs before each person’s time expires
  • Remember you don’t have to share too much – just enough for others to know if it’s worth following up with you
  • Consider sharing your email or a link to your LinkedIn profile in the chat box and inviting others to follow up
  • Ask yourself the following questions:

“Do I have anything specific of value that I can offer this person?”

“Do I know someone else who could be a valuable connection for this person?”

“Is there a resource or group that could be a good fit for this person?”

“Is there a link to an article or blog post that might be helpful for this person?”

Tip 8 – Encourage Dialogue with Open-Ended Questions

  • The goal of networking is to get to know a little about another person to determine if it makes sense for you to continue the dialogue after the networking event
  • Open ended questions (which can’t be answered with Yes or No answer) encourage dialogue e.g.

“I’m curious to know whether you’ve attended this event before and what made you sign up for it today?”

If they have attended the event before:

“What do you enjoy most about these events?”

“How would you describe an ideal candidate to join this group?’

“How did you first hear about this group and how long have you been involved with it?”

“What are some of the other places you like to go to network?

Tip 9 – Be a Good Listener

  • Go to the event with a curious mind
  • Give your full attention to the person who is speaking
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Acknowledge what the other person has told you with a nod of the head or a statement e.g.“I get that”  “It’s so interesting that you say that” “I hear you”  “I hadn’t looked at it that way before”

Tip 10 – Be Prepared to Follow Up

  • Block off time in your calendar the day of, or day after the event to follow up
  • After the event, make a note of everyone you met and whatever you can remember about them
  • Determine who you wish to continue to dialogue with (ideally no more than 3 per event)
  • Make sure your website and LinkedIn profile are current (before you attend the event)
  • Invite the people you want to follow up with to connect on LinkedIn and/or Facebook/Instagram
  • Have up to date information on your services or an updated resume ready
  • Even if you’re not continuing the dialogue with someone, consider whether you have anything of value you can share with them (see questions to ask yourself in Tip 7)

I hope these tips will help you embrace virtual networking. It’s especially valuable if you’re wanting to expand your network beyond your local community and tap into people and resources you may not be able to easily access locally.

My Networking for Success Workshop can help with all aspects of networking and can be especially helpful for anyone who finds networking challenging.

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