We are all working from the safety of our homes these days and as a result, many of our powerful engagements are now happening online. While we are physically distancing, virtually we are not. Online conferences give us access to the best experts, industry leaders, and other potential assets to our network. It is important to still be creative and strategic in building relationships from these virtual event opportunities.
Here are some of my favorite ways to virtually network at a conference:
1. Have a goal.
Begin by establishing your virtual networking goals. How many people do you want to connect with? Will you begin to spend virtual time weekly with certain connections? Be intentional in planning and strategizing your way through a conference. This will direct your focus and effort in networking that drives professional advancement.
As you are asking yourself these questions, keep in mind the three groups you should be targeting in your networking efforts:
1. Potential strategic partners – people who share the same target audience as you; someone fit into the sales cycle - either before or after you;
2. Subject matter experts in your field – people who inspire you to be better and question your own perspective to help you grow in experience; and
3. Current network – nurturing relationships with people you already know and trust.
Seek out events that have these people in the room. I recommend searching the following sites for upcoming events:
2. Comment and engage.
Share relevant comments and thoughts on topics to showcase your expertise. Be visible on the event platform and community or event app. Post questions, insights, reviews, and ask to hear from others. This strategy helps you find your way to connections with shared professional or educational interests, causes, and contacts.
The more that you give, the more that you’re able to ask for!
3. Follow up to establish relationships & create personal conversations.
After the event, follow up with the folks that you’ve met! Send a message asking for a fifteen-minute introductory call to find out more about how they got to where they are. Pro tip: keep the initial message short and sweet - two sentences top!
When you follow-up with your new connections, understand that conversations at this time of our life may become personal. This is a powerful way of building trust while sharing both our growth and challenges - personally and in business. You should plan for your initial call to last 15-20 minutes, tops. During your conversation ask them if they have any contacts that they could potentially introduce you to - an easy way to continue growing your network! You should also be thinking how to reciprocate, is there anyone within your network that you could introduce them to?
Be sure to continue to nurture that relationship; if the initial conversation went well - ask them to schedule another call before you even hang up!
While working remotely may have dramatically changed the way we connect, the possibilities are endless. Stay creative, strategize, and know that success is right in front of you!