18 months ago, WAG wrote a guest article for AXA Insurance titled “How to take the nerves out of networking”.
In this article, we shared top tips on how to come across well at networking events, and how to practice your 30-second elevator pitch. We even shared how to find good networking groups near your local area.
As the world has changed in the past year, with 2020 seeing all networking groups move online, is our advice still relevant? And what are the potential benefits of online networking?
We wanted to re-visit the article for those who struggle with online networking groups, hosted mainly on Zoom.
Is meeting online scarier, or easier than in person?
After speaking with many business owners around this topic in the past year, it comes down to this.
Each person is different.
Some people LOVE how accessible online meetings have become. The time implications are hugely reduced. No difficult tasks of parking your car or leaving at the crack of dawn to beat rush hour.
Other people HATE the awkward moments you get on group video calls where two people try to speak at the same time. It’s something that you cannot always avoid and it often stunts the conversational flow.
Ultimately, there are pros and cons to both. The prediction that many groups will never go back to regular face-to-face meetings seems increasingly likely as time goes on in this pandemic.
Whilst this is still the case and we may miss real human interaction, we wanted to focus on the positives to online networking.
It’s a great world that we live in, that we have been able to adapt and thrive through hardship.
5 Benefits to online networking
1. Networking is more accessible than ever.
The geographical location you sit in has never been so irrelevant. People from all over the world are joining forces to create unbelievable communities that would never be accessible in the real world.
Online networking has opened up the world, quite literally.
2. Online networking is more time-effective
No more long journeys into busy City Centres, trying to find a car-parking space and fighting for time. Simply roll out of bed and show up. Pyjamas & slippers on your bottom half? No problem.
This aspect has allowed busy entrepreneurs to attend more networking events, as they are able to work up until the meeting time, and can jump straight back into their work afterwards. It’s avoided the lost half-days out of the office, which can often be disheartening if you didn’t meet anyone new or interesting.
3. Meet more people in a shorter space of time
Now, we know that online meetings can be more difficult to speak to individual people, but there’s a window of opportunity not to be missed here.
If you are in a large video call with various people, you often have access to a chat feature and a list of names.
Use this to connect to people on LinkedIn, leaving a link to your profile in the chat box. This way you can keep track with your newly-found connections and instantly find out more about them.
You didn’t even have to awkwardly walk up to them, chat for 10 minutes before working out if you could help each other and ask for a business card. Win-win!
4. It’s easier to try new events
As many events have adapted their meetings to be online, they are also able to host to as many attendees as they like. Organisers do not have to worry about RSVP numbers to arrange refreshments and book a room for the amount of people.
It’s easier to drop in and out of new events with less commitment. If your schedule allows for something last minute, you can easily still attend.
Likewise, if you are home-schooling, you can still listen in to some webinars or presentation sections with your camera and microphone turned off. This means if your children ask you a complicated maths question, or they ask for another snack, you can help them without leaving the call. It’s normally for the snacks.
5. Camera shy? Pretend it’s broken…
We would always advocate for people to show their faces on screen, but if it’s something you really are not comfortable with, turn it off.
Most people will understand and you can build up your confidence for next time.
Don’t worry if your hair is unruly or you’re not in full business-attire. People understand that working from home is different, and it’s widely accepted now.
Take the nerves out of online networking
Hopefully, this article has given you some insight into how to use online networking to your advantage, and build your confidence to try a new group.
Whilst the light at the end of the tunnel is ahead of us for being able to meet again in person, use this time to try something new and make the most of online zoom calls.
It will be a good day when we can go to a ‘normal’ networking event, and shake someone’s hand without thinking twice.
But until then, we will be grateful that we have the technology to stay connected to people and that companies have been able to adapt.
If you need help to take the nerves out of speaking over the phone, get in touch to find out more about our expert telephone training.