December marks the 10th month of the pandemic in the United States, and social distancing has become the new norm. As we all settle into our virtual business world, I want to share my favorite ways to network that foster new and better connections.
Before we dive in, I want to reiterate that networking is still vital to your business. And, to be honest, networking is easier than ever in this digital world. People are spending less time commuting, traveling to lunch meetings, and going to in-person networking events, so most schedules are more flexible than ever before. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and set up some virtual meetings with some new folks, and attend some virtual networking events.
Here are the 4 Best Ways to Network During the Pandemic:
- Host virtual events. The key to virtual events is to be strategic. First and foremost, determine what the goal is of your event, and invite the people you want to meet or reconnect with. You want to make sure you plan the event around the idea of getting to know new people and deepen already existing connections. I regularly host virtual events. Some are networking events, some are educational events, and some are hybrids that are half networking and half educational. When I meet someone new that I want to know more about, I schedule a one-on-one follow up meeting in the next week or two. And, of course, I always connect on LinkedIn with the people I meet at virtual events.
- Schedule 30-minute virtual meetings. When you are first meeting with someone, please do not send an hour calendar invite unless it is agreed upon by both parties. Virtual networking offers fewer distractions, so you can be more intentional and efficient with your timing. Remember, there is no lost time grabbing a cup of coffee or going to the restroom. Ask to meet virtually with someone new for 30 minutes. That will give you plenty of time to get to know them and explore synergies. You can always schedule a longer follow-up call if you discover some worthwhile opportunities
- Know and offer your value. When it comes to networking during the pandemic, know what your value is, and offer it to your connections. I have a colleague that, at the end of every meeting, always asks if there is anyone that he knows who I would like an introduction to. He knows the value in offering to make connections, and he makes a consistent effort to do so. Similarly, when I am networking, I make sure to offer introductions that I think would benefit the person I am speaking with. In the end, offering your help will add value to your conversations and improve your relationships.
- Nurture your existing relationships. Pandemic or not, this tip is often overlooked. Remember all that time you spent networking earlier this year, last year, and the years prior? Go through your emails and contacts from the last 2-3 years to see who you have not heard from in a while and are still interested in working with. People miss so many opportunities to rekindle relationships by simply not checking in or following up. Most of the time, the other person—much like yourself—just got too busy and forgot about your initial conversation. A quick and thoughtful follow up could mean landing a new client or referral partner. I also recommend checking in with your existing clients to see if there is anything you can help with, even if it means referring them to someone else who can solve their current problem. Goodwill goes a long way when it comes to networking.
What are your favorite ways to network during the pandemic? What has worked the best for you? I want to hear from you! Let me know in the comments.
ABOUT JIM RIES
Director of Business Development
email@example.com | 410.209.6455
Offit Kurman is a full-service law firm with over 225 attorneys focused on representing privately-held businesses. With deep experience and knowledge dealing with the issues that business owners are regularly faced with, we bring value to every relationship. As Director of Business Development, Jim Ries drives revenue growth for Offit Kurman by helping business leaders and families of wealth address some of their most difficult challenges. He also identifies and develops strategic partnerships and market opportunities. Jim has access to a deep network of attorneys in every practice area, and he is able to connect his clients to the right attorney who can resolve their legal disputes and protect their assets. Jim is a master networker, and his high-level connections call him for solutions when they don’t know who to call. Let Jim be your Google.
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