Really you ask. Networking during covid? More corporate teambuilding activities? Yes, that’s the last thing you may want to do now but it is a necessary evil even during these crazy times. We’re used to networking everywhere: waiting at Starbucks, riding the train, and, of course, playing at the poker table. Perhaps the most effective place to network was at live event. Well, we’ve eliminated a lot of the old standbys and are now stuck with Zoom and dare I say it …Phone calls?? In case you are feeling a bit rusty here are five Networking don’ts to help you even if you are in a Zoom fog.
1. Don’t let the conversation be only about Y-O-U.
Everyone loves a little self-promotion, and let’s face it a huge part of networking is selling yourself. However, dominating the conversation with too much talk about your accomplishments or credentials can make the recipient tune out and turn off. Get to know the other person and what is important to them. It’s important to self-promote but the flow of conversation should not resemble your resume.
2. Don’t check your cell phone or other devices.
We’ve all seen it. Wandering eyes, looking down, pretending to be interested but scrolling Uber Eats figuring out what to have for lunch. Some people are masters at doing this virtually, but many are not that talented. People can see and often sense when you are distracted. Keep your devices away from you so you won’t be tempted. Focus on getting face-time, not Facebook time.
3. Don’t be shy.
What’s the point of networking if you’re too timid to approach someone? Virtual networking events can be a great venue to get you out of your comfort zone and talking with as many people as possible. Speak up first, introduce yourself and make sure you talk at least once in the group. If you sit on mute and off camera waiting for someone to talk to you, that opportunity may never come. Think of a networking event like a poker table. Read the other guests and don’t be afraid to be bold in your approach. Your confidence will have people remembering you long after the event has ended.
4. Don’t drink too much.
This should be an obvious tip, but people often take a networking event as an opportunity to imbibe in multiple margaritas. It’s much more obvious in person but we’ve all seen Pat from accounting show us a little too much of their personal life after our virtual happy hour. The good news is we are already home to sleep it off but the camera picks-up a lot and who knows who’s recording the event. The worst thing you can do is drink too much and leave people remembering you for the wrong reasons.
5. Don’t FORGET to follow up!
What good are endless “get to know you” Zoom calls and Linked-In connections if you don’t follow-up with anyone. After connecting, reach out with a quick thank you and let them know that you valued the conversation and would like the remain in touch. When connecting with people on LinkedIn or other forms of social media, make it personal. Attaching a personal message shows your new contacts your sincerity and sets you apart from the faceless spammer’s. The payout is in the follow-up.
Like poker, the key to being a great networker is strategy. Get to know the players, look for non-verbal cues , be bold and follow up. And if you want a really great place to network and engage with your team head to the virtual poker table with PokerDivas.