Networking events have been a staple of business growth for many businesses. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be conferences around a topic for your industry. It can be a happy hour around the corner with some others you’ve met along the way. And as they get smaller, they can be as simple as a business dinner with a colleague. Regardless of what your preferred method of networking events is, these days, they can be hard to come by. My friends who love to network and get out and meet people have had a rough 3+ months. Sure, you can meet new folks over video calls. But there is something more personal about in-person networking events. I was supposed to be in DC in May and in Texas later this week, but those events have become “virtual” and their organizers are doing the best they can to keep the networking component of the event viable.
This week’s HBR has a good article from Alisa Cohn and Dorie Clark about How to Network When There Are No Networking Events. Also, if you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend Ms. Clark’s book Entrepreneurial You.
Ms. Cohn and Ms. Clark have worked for years with their clients to help them establish virtual relationships. These relationships aren’t dependent on networking events, but their strategies are particularly appropriate now that networking events are primarily going virtual these days. They have identified 3 strategies for you to consider,
- Turn canceled conferences into private networking opportunities
- Rethink geographic boundaries
- Invite senior leaders to your online working group meetings
For canceled conferences, their strategy is to look for 5 – 10 people who were supposed to attend the conference. Using either LinkedIn or some other networking tool, reach out to them and connect and see if they would be interested in a virtual coffee or meetup. For colleagues that you are already working with, can you bring them into the fold? With virtual meetings, your colleagues all around the world can be brought into meetings and networking events. Especially with offices that are a distance apart, this can be a great way to create some company-wide unity.
And while you are bringing in those who work on the other side of the world, don’t forget the senior leaders as well. It doesn’t have to be business-related all the time. Perhaps you can create a virtual happy hour and the CEO can attend – something they might not have been physically able to do in the past. They can help to improve morale of the company. It can demonstrate to all employees that everyone is in this together.
So while you are growing your business without in-person networking events, don’t ignore the power of virtual meetups. You can get creative. Use different tools and software. Make it fun if possible and enjoy this opportunity to meet people you might never have been in the same room with.
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If you’re looking to grow your business through virtual networking, now is the best time to do it. If you’d like to set up a virtual coffee or meeting with me (doesn’t even need to be about legal issues), give me a call and we can set up a time that works for us – (877) AMAYERS.