During this time of distancing, it’s more important than ever to remain connected, stay up to speed on changes, and feel like your needs and concerns are being addressed – even if it’s from afar. Neuger’s CO.LAB series provides virtual connection sessions to address hot topics in the business world – from challenges and concerns during a pandemic to general advice on communications initiatives, like digital marketing and e-commerce.
For our January CO.LAB webinar session, we offered participants the opportunity to get to know one another through a virtual speed networking event where they talked about their ups and downs in 2020, and what professional goals/personal interests motivate them every day. Here are some of our tips for having a successful virtual networking experience.
Prepare a Great Introduction
Attending networking events can be nerve-wracking, especially when we are limited to a virtual setting. People often struggle to find what to say when it’s their turn to share or start a productive conversation in the allotted time to connect.
This is why your preparation is key. Despite the limitations we face today with networking, it is an excellent time to work on your “elevator pitch”. Typically, these personal statements include a brief introduction to who you are, what your title is, and what your company does as a whole.
But oftentimes, this professional small talk can feel dry for starting a conversation. You dictate how productive and engaging the conversation is with how much you’re willing to share about yourself beyond your job description. Sharing factoids about your hobbies, passion projects or whatever motivates you in everyday life gives attendees a better feel for who you are and what you’re about. It opens the door for relatability and could lead to a connection through a common interest. You could leave an event with a new business lead or a new fishing buddy! The point is, don’t limit your interactions; these events are intended for you to meet people.
Many find it useful to share goals they’ve set for the upcoming year or projects they’ve been proud of in the past. This is a chance for you to toot your own horn about your accomplishments. Taking pride in your work shows that you’re confident in your capabilities, and people will respond to that.
You can also utilize the video chat feature as an icebreaker in your conversations. Be observant of where people are tuning in from and what they have in their background. You might notice an artsy painting or neatly improvised office space that you could ask about. People love to talk about themselves, and you never know what story they have to accompany home decorations. If you show curiosity in others, people will reciprocate.
For marketers, fully utilizing your 60-90 seconds for sharing can be tricky because many find it difficult to balance talking about themselves and the company that they work for. Always include your industry and what company does, but it is okay for you to reserve most of that minute and half for your own story. People want to learn about you.
Utilize Social Media
Today, it seems like we make most of our first impressions with our social media profiles, so always have your contact information and LinkedIn profile ready for distribution. Ensure that your title and information are updated on your profile, and feel free to share about the event you’ve attended. This can be an efficient way to connect with other attendees you didn’t get a chance to chat with.
Avoid sharing social and personal contact info in your introduction or during small group discussions because it can dilute the purpose of learning about each other in the moment. If you meet someone interesting, focus on the conversation and sharing commonalities during the event. You can simply jot down someone’s name during the event, and send them an invite to connect afterward. With that invite, it is wise to also send a short message to individuals stating that you enjoyed chatting with them at the event.
It’s All About Your Attitude
Ultimately, the most important thing is to show up with a positive and willing attitude. No one wants to work or be friends with someone who is not enthusiastic about their own work and personal life. Even though the person on the other end of the line may not see you smile, they will be able to sense your attitude, and you want to come across as positive and optimistic. Enthusiasm spreads very quickly at these events. Letting people get to know you on a personal level and sharing your passions can really bring people together, especially in this time of social distancing.
We look forward to creating more engaging opportunities for our participants to expand their network at our CO.LAB meetings. Thank you for joining us!