This year’s pandemic has changed almost everything about doing business, not least of all networking. Once a mostly in-person social thing, more and more of us are having to find ways to make new connections without leaving home.
An entrepreneur’s network of personal and professional contacts is one of the key factors in success, particularly in the pre-startup period. Here are some ways you can network virtually during the pandemic.
Turn to your existing contacts
Many businesses have had to pivot and adapt since COVID-19 became a fact of life. This means that many of your existing contacts might love to hear from you. There might be a new business idea or a new connection to be made. You may be able to team up to virtually host an event for others. And it’s also just nice to be able to reconnect with someone you might not have spoken to for a while, especially when social events are no longer a viable option. After all, what is networking if not creating relationships?
Change your social media strategy
What social media channels are you using? Are they working for you, or against you? The pandemic is an ideal time to get more involved in social media. After all, many of your existing and potential customers are probably using social media more than ever. Get inspiration from those who have seen success (but don’t copy), or take training that incorporates the latest trends, news, and strategies – companies such as Later offer free webinars and videos full of good social media advice for small business owners.
Investigate virtual conferences
Many industry conferences have been cancelled due to the pandemic, but many have kept going in a virtual format. Some are specifically made for networking, while others are slightly altered versions of traditional programming. In any case, look for opportunities to chat with other attendees or engage on social media conversations around the event.
Reframe your networking perspective
Now that networking events no longer require event space, catering, and a huge budget, there are interesting opportunities available that you can take advantage of. Because everyone is accustomed to virtual events this year, you can extend your networking reach into different regions and even different countries. You may even be able to spearhead industry-specific networking events, whether it’s a small, informal information-sharing session between a handful of people, or a larger-scale, scheduled virtual event. Think of ways you can reach out and get to know people that you might not have been able to before.