Virtual Networking During a Social Distancing Economy – How to Continue Growing Your Business
Businesses need people. From clients and customers, to partners, team members, and suppliers, it simply can’t run or succeed without them.
In a world that is shifting more and more to social distancing and virtual office use, how and where you find people can make or break a business or marketing plan.
Here are a few considerations to make for those of us who work from home and still need to build our businesses and build our networks…
Know Who You Want to Meet –
Identifying the types of professionals you want to connect with before going out to find them will help maximize your efforts and keep you efficient. Look at your business gaps and decide what you need.
Could you use referral partners? Most of us would say ‘yes’. Start by determining what businesses you refer to. You likely refer to them because they provide something you don’t and your clients or customers can benefit from that. Reach out to strategically positioned businesses or service professionals to link arms in providing services they don’t.
Do you need team members? Take a look at your current network. Who may know someone who is looking for work or who specializes in the area you need help in? If you don’t have anyone like that in your network already, go searching online and begin researching and interviewing.
Your Facebook Network –
Even if you are only “friends” with family and friends on Facebook, your network starts with them. While no one wants spammy messages or to feel they are being sold to in their feeds, a well-positioned update from you about the business side of your life can go a long way in keeping your Facebook friends up-to-speed on what’s happening in your life. It can also remind them what you do and that you’re still in business, which helps keep you top of mind when your network hears of someone in need of your services.
If you make it personal and share from your heart, not from your marketing head, you are essentially inviting your close circles to follow along on your journey and there really is no harm in that. In fact, as entrepreneurs, we know all too well that our businesses often are our life.
Facebook Groups –
During the 2020 Super Bowl, Facebook ran a TV commercial for Facebook Groups and it was not only well executed, it was well received. It seems there really is a Facebook Group for everyone and everything. Finding a relevant and meaningful group is as easy as using the search bar to type a keyword or interest. (But if you can’t find one, it’s just as easy to start one.)
Perhaps you’re looking for a professional trade group, or a business networking group. No matter what goal you have Groups offer opportunities to remain in community, albeit virtually, while you work from home.
Establishing yourself as a credible contributor in a group means being consist and showing up, which may mean only joining a couple of groups so your attention isn’t divided in too many directions. Quality communities will appreciate your participation and help you build your reputation as a valuable resource.
Link Up on Linkedin –
If you’re not already on Linkedin, go setup your profile and begin connecting with professionals you know. Be sure to customize the connection request message with a personal touch and once you’ve connected on the platform follow-up to get a virtual coffee on the calendar so you’re forging real life professional relationships.
Virtual Coffees –
Using a tool like Zoom, Go To Meeting, or even Facetime, virtual coffees allow you to continue networking even when you can’t physically meet in person. This method also removes limitations of location-based business building by affording you the opportunity to meet, connect, and network with people all over the United States or the globe.
Call Considerations and Etiquette –
During virtual coffees or video meetings remember, you’re still connecting on a professional level. Just because it’s a call or you’re at home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider what you’re wearing and how you look. Always bring your best to the connection.
If you take notes during the call, be sure to preface the conversation by letting your meeting attendee know your typing is note taking so they don’t assume you’re multi-tasking.
Be sure to ask questions that would help you learn everything you need to know about their business. This is the opportunity to determine if they are the right business professional for your trusted network, not to mention establishing credibility and a good reputation right out the gate.
During the conversation, if you think of resources they could benefit from, offer to provide those and be prompt in delivering them. It could be an introduction to someone you think they should know, or a tool they might need to consider using.
Lastly, while your goal may be to grow your network or build your business, keeping an abundance mentality can further establish you as a valuable resource. At the end of every conversation, ask how you can help them and then follow through.
Endless Opportunities –
Ultimately, just because we work from home doesn’t mean we can’t continue growing our network and our business.
If you are willing to be diligent, disciplined, and committed to the process of connecting with professionals virtually, nothing can stop your growth.
Afterall, as business owners we must be agile. Often that means putting our creative hat on and changing things up when needed. And that is exactly where innovation happens.
Cheers to your growth and continued innovation,