Updated: Nov 13, 2020
QUESTION: What is Your Biggest Challenge Right Now With Virtual Networking?
In a special episode of the #AskAshleyAssists show on This Is It Network, we’re going to answer responses from a post put on LinkedIn, What is your biggest challenge right now with virtual networking? Here are some of them:
“Staying in contact with new connections, after the initial, “Let's connect!” message.” - Dave Patchell
After the initial contact, you can do these top three things to continue to nurture the network share:
Share and Like their LinkedIn posts.
Provide them with helpful resources or some kind of homework that you may have discussed when you're meeting with them in person or on the phone.
Help them meet the right people. Make an introduction or referral.
These are all considered networking activities. So by staying in front and caring about what they do, you're providing very helpful value in different ways.
“I miss the organic one on one chats and small group chats. In my experience, now it's either a full meeting “chat” or else it's an assigned breakout room that has a goal and lasts a predetermined amount of time. I miss being able to meet someone, chat without structure, and move on.” - Patrick Gallagher.
Start your own.
You might not be in the right networking group. Go and create a group of 10 strategic partners you meet once a month, once a week, or whatever it may be, and you structure how you want it. It’s important because now, you're being more intentional about who you're keeping in your network and they can provide value in a way that actually works with your personality.
Otherwise, if you're not comfortable making those groups yet, do more one-on-ones and group engagements. A lot of the times when I do virtual networking groups, I will listen to what everybody has to say, contribute when I’m needed, and then go into the chat and ask for a one-on-one. That allows me to engage in a way that's meaningful.
“Being able to read someone's non-verbal cues.” - Christine Collins Blithe
Focus on the follow-up.
Non verbal cues are tough, but just like in person, you're able to see how they're positioning, where they stand, if they're looking away, or if they're taking notes. Don’t worry so much about the non verbal cues, but really worry about the follow-up. The follow-up is really going to determine the length of that relationship or that connection that you're making.
“The bonding that happens with in-person gathering that is limited in cyberspace.” - Rhonda Ungar-Cohen
Make it an experience.
The fact that you're not in person, the way that you can really address how you want to be remembered and portrayed by people when you're not in the room is to try to make a point to be very expressive. Continue to be yourself and engage in a way that you can actually get a good positive reaction from the other person and make them feel as comfortable as possible.
“Some have no format and everyone talks over everyone. I think there needs to be a good moderator to help each person network.” - Brian Cronin
Structure is key.
When you're searching for a virtual networking group, you want to build the know, like, and trust factor with the coordinator. That way, they know that having you in the group is beneficial to them and also to the rest of the members. It's important to recognize that a good structured networking group has an agenda, stays on top of it, and gives everybody a moment to be able to tell who they are, what they do, and what makes them awesome.
“I have been thinking it's time to check out new groups because I have more flexibility with virtual, but choosing which ones to visit is a challenge.” - Leah O’Leary
Ask for Invite.
Some great groups out there are CCSNJ and Centricity. Ask your power partners where they go. Start shopping around for different groups and asking people if they're looking for new guests.
“Finding the time.” - Keith Badlwin
Time management is something that we all deal with. Try to pack the majority of all networking activity on one day. Introduction phone calls can be scattered throughout but block off a day or two in the week (e.g. Mondays and/or Fridays) to do all your follow-ups that are very admin heavy.
Be very strategic about the groups that you're a part of and be very particular about the people that you meet. Most importantly, be more intentional about the value that you give and create a great automated sequence that allows you to give value and stay top of mind.
Ashley Owens of Ashley Assists is your virtual networking concierge to navigate you through your networking activity. Get a networking audit! visit https://www.ashleyassists.com/networkingcoaching