Virtual networking events are rising in popularity and like any networking event, it’s important to be prepared to enhance your experience. There are plenty of varieties of virtual events you may be asked to participate in, including webinars, virtual networking and Zoom calls – which can seem overwhelming! Having this small list of tips will allow you to narrow your focus, make the most out of your experience, and most importantly, leave with some quality new connections.
Whether you have noisy neighbours, children or pets at home, try your best to prevent distractions during online events. We recommend a space that is free of unnecessary noise. This might mean moving away from a window that is prone to street noise or turning off your cell phone and email notifications. It can be easy to get distracted, but remembering that this time is dedicated to connecting with others can be a good motivator to stay focused.
Similarly to in-person networking, you may feel worried or anxious when waiting to speak with your next match. Having a drink in hand is a great way to feel less awkward. You can typically find a crowd near the drinks or food at an in-person event for a reason. Talking about the food or drink is a great conversation starter. You can ask the other person what they are drinking to get the conversation going. Have you tried a new tea, or have a favourite local coffee bean? Share it! This will make the conversation flow effortlessly.
You’ve hit it off with a few other attendees, now what? Ensuring your contact information is up to date will allow you to take your 5 minute virtual conversation into a lasting connection. Whether this is your LinkedIn profile, Hopin profile, personal website, social media account – being accessible is the key to establishing your new connection. Encouraging them to connect can also lead into a future professional relationship by allowing them to stay up to date with your career or business.
Sometimes if we feel uncomfortable, we tend to ramble to fill in the silence. When we do this, it can be difficult for another person to get a word in. If you want to encourage free-flowing conversation, take a moment to pause and simply listen. Not only will this give you the opportunity to learn more about the individual, but it allows everyone to have their moment to speak. After all, would you want to connect with someone who wouldn’t let you get a word in?
Most of the Greater KW Chamber of Commerce events welcome new attendees to join. When you have someone you know in attendance, it makes meeting new people seem less scary, and more conversational. During some of the GKWCC virtual events, there is the opportunity to participate in “Sessions” or the group networking section, where you can ease into networking with a friend by your side.
Just like in-person networking, you should always follow up with your new connections. When you are meeting a variety of people throughout the event, it can be hard to remember everyone. If you follow up, it allows you to learn more about your new connection and build a deeper bond. When following up virtually, we recommend trying a virtual coffee meeting (bring your own coffee!), a Zoom call, a quick email reminding them about yourself or even a phone call. Going the extra mile to follow up will allow you to make a stronger connection.
With virtual networking becoming a new norm, it’s more important than ever to grow your networking skills. Especially since there is a lack of connecting with individuals on a daily basis, it’s important to seek out opportunities that allow your business to get noticed. If you’re interested in joining a virtual networking event, check out the Greater KW Chamber of Commerce Events Calendar for the next one.