A lot of people tell me that they did well making connections in person, but they aren’t sure how to handle networking online in a virtual quarantine world.
The basic process of networking online is quite comparable to networking in person with a few key differences. Let’s start by looking at the steps of making a networking connection.
- Find people to connect with
- Have initial conversation – determine common interests
- Follow up conversation – build relationship
- Ongoing relationship building
Finding and conversing
It’s the first two steps where things really change between online and in person. If you are face to face, then the first step is going to places where there are people to network with, and the second is saying hi and whatever else follows. Then, if there is interest, you’d want to set up a follow up meeting to connect further.
Online, the finding works differently. Unless you are at a virtual networking event (which I’ll talk about in a moment), the process is a bit different.
First, you identify someone you’d like to potentially connect with and reach out to them through email, Facebook messenger, leaving a comment, etc. So your first step is now a text outreach instead of attending an event.
The text exchange takes the place of the initial 5 minute chat at the networking event to establish if you want to talk more.
Next, step three is similar. If there is interest, you want to schedule a meeting to really get to know each other. This could be phone or video chat. During this meeting, you find how you can help each other, and then build the relationship from there.
Engaging New People Online
For most people, it is probably the initial approach where it’s not happening for them.
Don’t overthink it. If you see someone make a post or comment or share content that makes you think you’d like to connect, either comment or send them a private message saying, “I really liked that thing you said. Would you be open to a call so I can learn a bit more about you/your business/your project?”
You will likely chat a bit in text first, get to know each other and where you might have common intersts. Then, you can schedule the call.
One of the advantages of this is that when you get on the call, you have notes from the text conversation so you know where to get started.
I recommend you set up a Calendly account because it avoids the awkwardness of trying to schedule. You want to schedule a call in as few exchanges as possible because with both email and chat, your conversation can get lost in the shuffle, so the longer you talk, the more likely it is that the conversation will taper off.
Need a little more help to refine your networking strategy and pivot in unusual times? I’d love to help. Let’s set up a free half hour coaching session. I’ll help you get started and point you in the right direction.
You also may be interested in my book The Guy Who Knows A Guy. Click the link to get a copy.