Networking can be time-consuming and stressful. But, when it comes to building a career or business, the importance of networking is unparalleled. Networking can be the difference between landing your dream job, or being picked over by another equally-qualified candidate who happened to know the right person. In fact, when it comes to landing a job statistics show that 85% of positions are filled by networking!
Whether you’re looking for a new job, meeting with new clients, or even on the hunt for potential investors in your new company, you’ll need to know how to network effectively—while social distancing—in the era of COVID-19. Here are seven tips that will help you network effectively online.
Meeting anyone for the first time is nerve-wracking. Even in a business setting, the thought process is similar to that of a first date: Are they even interested in meeting with me? If so, where do we meet? What should I wear?
Don’t be afraid to ask someone for a Zoom meeting—people are home and (often) have a little extra time on their hands. Even better, a study has shown that 84% of people actually prefer remote meetings, versus face-to-face. Next time if you’re wondering if you should reach out to someone, stop worrying and ask yourself, “What’s the best that could happen?”
In-person meetings are usually 30 minutes or longer—this justifies the travel time it takes to meet face-to-face. Now since everything is done over Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet, there’s really little to no effort to meet. So, ask for a short meeting—10 or 15 minutes should suffice—and make the most of your time. Efficiency is key!
Virtual backgrounds are a must for video calls. When you use a virtual background, gone are the days of worrying about tidying up behind you, or wondering if your kids are going to make an appearance. (Trust us, parents, this tool will help you avoid a situation like this one!) Using a virtual background helps maintain professionalism, keeps your home private, and helps avoid distractions on both sides of the conversation.
Having a steady list of networking icebreaker questions can be the difference between an awesome or an awkward Zoom call. Ice breakers are a great way to get the conversation flowing, and having at least two or three on hand is a safe way to ensure the conversation never dulls. (Pro-tip: Icebreakers are also a key ingredient when you're learning how to network at conferences!)
In a large Zoom meeting and don’t know everyone? Use a HiHello virtual background that includes your digital business card. Your name, title, company and logo displayed on the left of your screen, and a QR code linking to your digital business card on the right. Everyone in the meeting will know who you are, and will have access to your contact information. Best of all, they’re completely free.
We don’t recommend rolling out of bed and hopping on a Zoom call within five minutes of waking up, but it’s completely fine to not get as dressed up for a meeting as you normally would. Look presentable, but don’t spend too much time getting ready (because no one else is!). And remember—all that matters is what people can see on the video call. (Professional up top, PJs down below is always a go-to!)
The human element of networking is something that doesn’t get the credit it deserves. We’re not robots—we’re living, breathing humans with feelings and emotions. All in all, we’re living through an extremely strange, stressful, and trying time. Everyone’s in the same boat. Be understanding, be courteous, and be respectful. The only way to get through this pandemic is together (figuratively, not literally because, you know, social distancing).
Did you find this article helpful, or have any networking tips of your own that you’d like to share? Let us know!