The New Normal in Networking for Business
"Going out in public now is like having unprotected sex. Sure, they look fine… but you never know who they’ve been with."
We live in a time where it’s all about social distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing of masks in public to stay healthy and safe. And while the introvert in me is just pleased with the stay-at-home orders, I know as an entrepreneur how networking is vital to stay in business… much more to thrive in this challenging, virus-fearing environment.
We need to connect with like-minded individuals, professionals that we admire, thought leaders, future business prospects and even help when we feel stressed by all the challenges.
If there is another entrepreneur, professional or person that you think can add value, don’t wait for the coronavirus crisis to end — reach out to them.
So, we’ve listed here a few ways to network in the new normal.
Use video conferencing — Seeing the person makes your connection much more personal. Remember to put your best face forward — make-up, good lighting and find your best angle. Also, don’t wear pajamas or go pants less — you may need to move positions or locations during the meeting. There’s a few of these apps available like Zoom, Skype, Facetime — for iPhone users, Google Hangout, WhatsApp — which is very popular in other countries, Messenger, etc.
Attend virtual mixers — Check the websites of various Chambers of Commerce, Meetup groups, Professional Organizations or Networking Groups. Mix and mingle with the business community, let them know what’s going on with your business. Gain contacts and build relationships — yes, it’s possible to do these virtually.
Join online seminars/workshops/training — Go to the SBA or SBDC sites. There are a few seminars and workshops with very relevant business topics. And more than the learnings from these seminars, you can find mentors to help you start/re-start, grow and sustain your business or whenever you’re stuck on a project.
Get active on social media — There’s a few platforms to pick from: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Nextdoor, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn and the newcomer TikTok. You don’t have to spread yourself too thin and be in every one of them. Pick the platform where your potential customers are. My favorite platform for meeting professionals and other B2B businesses would hands down be LinkedIn. That said, I would encourage everyone to get active on LinkedIn, if they are not yet.
Send e-mail campaigns — Emailing can be incredibly effective, so it should be considered a best business practice for entrepreneurs. Focus on what your recipients have to gain from connecting with you - not just what you want from them. A person is more likely to agree if they can see the value too. So, figure out what could benefit their business or career, and find a suitable correlation between both of your goals before you reach out.
Internet forums/Discussion Groups — Quora, Reddit, Medium, etc… there are so many good online forums out there, and the one key theme is that they target a specific niche. By doing this the community is able to create a ‘Tribe’ of people that may have never met elsewhere, and the common interest/topic/product exists as the centerpiece for all conversations.
Phone and text messages — and not to overlook the traditional calls to your contacts, clients and partners. Call to check-in on them, catch up and keep the relationship going.
Connectivity can’t be cancelled — and we’re not talking about WiFi. There are endless ways to keep networking — just be creative in finding ways to stay in touch. The bottom line is — build and deepen your relationships.
For help with business strategies during these tough times, please email us at email@example.com. Let’s talk!