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How To Network 101 | Pandemic Edition

Do you remember the good old days, we could go on a networking event and not just sit at home all the time? We miss it. Oh, so many possibilities we had. To meet up together and discuss different topics. Our social calendars were filled with events, sometimes even two months ahead of time. But right now, all this seems like sci-fi. Even though we are at home due to a worldwide pandemic, we still need to build new business connections. LIGS University brings you few tips on where to look for networking during the pandemic.

I want to network, but I can't do it offline

Rather than going to networking parties, we sit at home. There is no other way. But did you know there are still ways how to connect? There are plenty of opportunities out there. Most event providers, conferences, and even smaller professional communities had to adjust to the new situation and go online. Right now, you can register for many online networking events. The bonus is, you can log in from anywhere. 

Here are few tips on where to look for online networking and workshops:

  • Take a look at local business Facebook groups (communities). Pick the ones that are closest to your desired business industry. 
  • Check out Facebook events. 
  • Look through the event platform Eventbrite. There are interesting workshops, webinars, and lectures. Most of these happen through ZOOM. Speakers do involve their audience and openly discuss topics together with them. 
  • Use LinkedIn. It is a helpful tool to start your business connections. You pick who is relevant for your business. There are also several extensions you can use for LinkedIn. Dux soup will connect you with 100 potential networkers weekly. It is an automatic service you have to try. Another tool is a mail shake. It helps with LinkedIn and mailing and saves your precious time.  
  • Take a look at the Bumble Bizz app. How does it work? When you register, you fill in information about yourself (what you achieved so far, your goals, etc.), create a short bio, and headline you're ready to network. Are you familiar with Tinder? The Bumble Bizz works similarly, but it is made for businesses. And who knows, maybe you'll find your next investor there.
  • Another great tool is a Lunchclub. You add your goals, what you do, your values, or what you enjoy, and AI will pair you with another networker with similar interests. Every week the app asks you what day and when you are free to network. Then the AI plans your one-to-one networking session. 

Be prepared

You found an event you like! That is fantastic. The next step is to get ready for networking itself. You can't prepare for networking, you say? Quite the opposite, of course, you can. Here is how. 

Find out who else will attend. You can ask the organizers for the list of people attending. If they are reluctant to give to you, ask just about names or specific professions and businesses. For example, I look for CEOs in the cybersecurity industry. The next step is gaining as much information about the host or hosting the event itself you can. Scan the social media, website or check their recent LinkedIn posts. 

Do you know, who's presenting a lecture? Did the speaker write any interesting articles lately? Great, read it and we guarantee, you'll find it much easier to find a common language. You can say something like Hey, I enjoyed your recent piece on Culture ethics behavior. And start a casual conversation. 

Prep a short introduction about yourself (a pitch). At some smaller networking events, they might ask you to introduce yourself on camera or in the chat. 3 easy things are enough: your name, where you work, and what you do plus a link to your LinkedIn profile. You can change this according to the event you are attending. I'm sure it will be different at the AI conference and Personal growth conference. 

Always have your business cards ready. How are you supposed to do that in online meetings? Send a link or prepare a QR code with all your details. The other attendees can then scan it with their phones. 

What else can you do before the event itself? Get used to your voice. Talk to yourself, read a book out loud, etc. You can also prepare questions you'd like to ask. Let everyone know you are attending on your social media. And don't forget to check the topics that are currently trending worldwide. Great newsletter or app for that is skimm. They will send you a sum up of what is going on right into your email address. 

How to behave during online networking? 

The networking day is finally here. There is a reminder on your calendar letting you know, the event starts in an hour. Always make sure you come a bit earlier. It gives you an advantage. You will see people enter the online room one by one. You'll see how they react and what they do. here is your chance to select your potential contacts. During interaction with others be open, friendly (but not too friendly), and approachable. Show a bit of your personality. 

Rule number one is always to have your camera turned on. It shows your openness to communicate. Also, make sure you'll pick an interesting background on camera. Maybe it is your bookshelf with interesting titles or if you are a woman with extravagant earrings. Again it makes it easier for others to start a conversation if they see, there is something different about you. 

Don't be afraid to start a conversation with your host, a speaker, or other attendees. Use chat during online networking. You can easily react to what's being discussed. Use either mutual chat or you can start a private chat with someone you find interesting and write a direct message. In the end, don't forget to thank the host, say you had a lovely time, and give them feedback.  

Do a follow up after the event

Now the event is finished and you managed to collect many contacts. Of course, you want to keep in touch with them, so what you have to do is find out, what network they want to use to stay in touch with you. Will they prefer email or a text message? Make sure you know the channels you will use for communication. 

Prepare an introduction message you will use while sending a LinkedIn request etc. This is something you can adjust accordingly. Also, make a note on how to meet next time. During the pandemic, you might prefer a walk in the fresh air instead of another ZOOM meeting. 

What else is there left to say? We suggest sharing your experience and feelings from events you've attended. You might want to send a thank you card to the organizers. And lastly, if you attend any event, don't be afraid to have your voice heard or to stand out. Event online networking can be fun!

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