People have been networking online for more than a year. Now, it’s finally an option to hold in-person networking events for businesses. Of course, that doesn’t mean things are back to the way they were. Things have changed, and you may need to adjust the approach you take to networking.
Whether you own your own business or are building a career, business networking is essential. It’s a way to find job opportunities, connect with future collaborators, and build a business and gain name recognition. Networking allows you to learn from others and discover new strategies that could help you achieve your goals. To learn about “online business networking” see here.
Prior to COVID, in-person networking was the default format for business networking. While networking took place at a wide range of locations and at many types of events, it was rare for people to forge connections online.
Now, however, things are very different.
Because of COVID, the only way for people to the network was online. Not everyone reacted to this change of circumstances in the same way. There were some that appreciated the range of people they could connect with and how easy it was to meet with new groups. However, there were others that found online networking to be impersonal. Furthermore, broadband limitations often made it challenging to network online. For some, it was virtually impossible.
Networking is beginning to go back to physical meetings. With this shift, you may be tempted to return to the networking strategies that you used to use. However, just doing things the way you used to may not be the best option. Instead, it’s a time to assess the strategies that you used in the past and find ways to adjust and improve them.
If you’re preparing to return to in-person networking, it’s important to think about what you can do to make your networking efforts more effective.
What Hasn’t Changed?
While a lot has changed over the last 18 months, it’s important to remember that the basics of business networking are still:
Use Your Time Efficiently: You only have so much time in your workweek. When you spend time networking, you’re not using that time on other tasks. It’s important to be careful about how you use your time. Before you attend a meeting or event, you should think about the other people attending the event. Will there be people at the event that you’re likely to collaborate with in the future? Will you be able to make valuable connections? How much time will it take to attend the meeting?
Have a Way to Measure Success: Prior to attending an event, you’ll want to think about what your measurements for success are. Is your goal to find leads? Make conversions or sales? Introduce yourself to new people? Your goals should be clearly identified so that you have a way to measure your success.
Have a Plan In Place: Before attending a meeting, you should know what it is you’re looking for. Is there something specific that you’d like to do, like meet a certain person? Are there things about your business that you’d like to communicate? Ahead of the event, you should take the time to see who will be attending. Think about what you’d like to accomplish and who you’d like to speak with.
Don’t Forget to Follow Up: Truly successful networking doesn’t stop the meeting is over. Make sure you follow up with the contacts you make later on. If you were unable to connect with someone you wanted to speak with them, you should reach out to them after the event.
What Has Changed?
Things are very different from what they were before.
The world changed dramatically in a short period of time, and that’s presented us all with the opportunity to take stock of our lives. There are people that have made dramatic career changes. Many businesses have changed their strategies or their offerings.
No matter what your situation is, you should be aware that things have changed for many people, and you should be prepared for those changes.
Be Understanding of Anxiety: Some of the people you’ll see at events will be excited to be at these kinds of events again. However, there are others that may be feeling anxious. No matter what the source of that anxiety is, you should be respectful of it and strive to make others comfortable. If you’re struggling with anxiety yourself, you should try to make this experience easier for you. Let people know if you’re not comfortable shaking hands. Don’t hesitate to wear a mask if that puts you at ease. Remember, even if you don’t mind shaking hands or going maskless, there are others that may not feel the same way.