5 Networking Essentials for 2021
But now that you’ve acquired those skills, how prepared are you to put them to use to benefit your business? 2020 may be over, but the radical effect it had on how we work and interact has altered us permanently. Many things will return to what they were. Other changes are here to stay.
Leading the list of our ’new normal’ is video conferencing. What started out as an awkward necessity a year ago has become a convenience we’re not giving up anytime soon. Who wants to drive through traffic when you could have a Zoom meeting in your sweatpants? Why pay for office space when you could be connected from your home? More and more business will rely on remote communication in the future because it’s easier, faster, and cheaper. Instead of meeting at someone’s office, expect to hear, “Why don’t we set up a Zoom call?”
While that convenience is great, the downside is your business will have to fight harder to be heard and remembered. Video conferencing makes it easy to see more people, but everyone has been reduced to a rectangle on a computer screen. No matter how strong a speaker you are or how strong your message, you’re limited by the distractions and signal strengths of whomever you’re talking to.
So how do you make yourself noticed in the new virtual landscape? By establishing a solid and structured networking base. Networking became a valuable addition to business when we were doing it in person. As more business moves online, networking will become the only game in town. You’re not going to spontaneously bump into someone on Zoom. You need a plan, a platform and a message, if you want to have a voice in the expanding ocean of online business.
Here are the 5 networking essentials for growing your business in the ‘new normal’ of working remotely:
1.Get ready for your closeup.
Like it or not, a video meeting makes you a TV host. You’re a rectangle on someone else’s screen, so make sure your face is well-lit and your background professional, or at least appropriate. Prepare your message. You’re there to promote your business, so when it’s your turn to talk you can’t afford to waste time. Have a clear and concise 20-30 second explanation for who you are, what you do, and what you’re looking for. People’s attention spans are even more limited online, so don’t ramble!
Bottom line: Virtual networking has turned us all into talking heads. Make the best of it, but don’t stress out!
2. Build a foundation across multiple platforms.
Solidify your LinkedIn profile. Post regularly on social media. Join organizations that have an established, regular Zoom presence. As BNI members, you’re already connected with the world’s single most successful referral network which now gives you access to weekly Zoom meetings anywhere across the globe. No other organization offers the follow-through, accountability and results of BNI, and nobody else can touch BNI when it comes to its virtual reach and connectivity.
Bottom line: The more online presence, the better. However, choose structured platforms over loose one-offs.
This lesson applies offline as well as on. Want to grow your business? Focus on learning about the other person. They’re more likely to trust your business if they feel you’re sincerely interested in theirs.
Bottom line: It’s about them, not you.
Thank them for the meeting, ask them questions, send them answers, keep in touch. Emails are nice. Phone calls are better, especially at first. A voice and a complete conversation make a bigger impact than words in an inbox.
Bottom line: Nurture the connection, but don’t overwater it.
5. On with the show.
Adding a presentation, slide, or customized virtual background to your Zoom meeting can transform a dull lecture into a visual show. People tune out a voice, but they notice interesting images. Do you know how to use a layout program like PowerPoint? Are you able to share your screen or change your background? If not, find someone to help you.
Bottom line: Show them, don’t tell them.
BNI ’s mission is to help members increase their business through a structured, positive and professional referral marketing program that enables them to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals.
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