Boost your virtual networking power
August 16, 2022
Virtual networking provides countless advantages for your business development strategy. Not only can you form long-term relationships with potential clients and business partners, but you also get to connect at your own convenience.
Connect with anyone from anywhere. There is no longer a geographic limit or a need to coordinate travel days into your busy work schedule. Virtual networking lets you connect with others in different time zones, and then take the children to soccer practice later in the afternoon.
Here is how to boost your virtual networking power.
Make it personal
Just as you would talk about weather or traffic when meeting a prospect in person, you still need to add these casual conversational pieces into your virtual discussions. In other words, don’t make it all about work. Ask about a painting or photo in the background of the video conference call. Ask them questions about their weekend or their hobbies. Side conversations like this make networking fun, memorable and personable. These conversations help you form long-lasting, valuable relationships with potential leads that turn into loyal clients or referrals.
It is true that being on video or on a long call can be exhausting, especially when you are trying to separate personal and work life. Ask your prospects if they prefer to meet on camera or over the phone.
Other ways to stay top-of-mind with prospects is to share resources. After knowing your prospects’ interests and appetite for your services, share podcasts, blogs, videos or other resources you’ve found to be helpful. Connecting like this via email allows you to be seen as a valuable resource, helping the potential client understand certain topics or gain industry insight.
Add it to your work schedule
Fitting networking into your busy work schedule is easier than ever. Once you have their contact information, offer a brief 10 to 15-minute phone call. Brief phone calls remain less intimidating than video conferencing. Use the phone call to get to know the person’s needs and how you can help. From there, have a follow-up discussion via video to share insights or capabilities.
Connecting virtually allows you to have multiple resources at your fingertips. You can have their website on your computer screen while you ask questions about their operations. Maybe you even skim through their LinkedIn profile during your discussion to mention the prospect’s specific work experience or skills.
One of the keys to networking is your follow-through. Even when connecting virtually, follow up via email or phone to check in with the lead. Ask how they are doing and if they have any questions for you. Schedule this additional opportunity to connect with the prospect on a personal level in order to form a stronger relationship with them.
Stick to the basics
When connecting virtually, be attentive. Give the prospect your entire attention by being in a quiet room with limited distractions. Silence phone or computer notifications, just as you would during an in-person business meeting.
We get it. Life happens, and sometimes you will need to reschedule virtual meetings. Even though virtual networking is convenient because we can do it from our couch, the airport or the local coffee shop, being appreciative of the prospect’s time is critically important. Communicate as soon as possible if you must reschedule.
The advantages to virtual networking are limitless. It brings ease to your workday, adds flexibility to your business development strategy and expands whom you can reach for future business opportunities.
Keep the foundational principles of networking in place and apply it to the virtual space. Consistency each month is key, and you will reap the benefits of virtual networking long into the future.
Dawn Wagenaar is a principal of Ingenuity. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.