Making the Most of Connecting Online
Face to face networking has become a major part of our day to day interactions. Whether it comes in the form of a location cold call, a lunch or coffee meet up with a client or a business to business networking group, we are all accustomed to shaking hands and getting to know each other quickly by reading facial expressions, social cues and exchanging cards. Sadly, those cues won’t be part of our business or sales toolbox for at least the foreseeable future.
So what now? How do we move forward?
In the short term most business associations have moved into large format networking zoom-like calls. This allows the participants to at least continue meeting with each other, catching up and connecting and continuing to be part of each other’s growth and remind fellow members that you are here and ready to do business. It also allows new members to be brought into the fold and start meeting fellow members. Supposing that this will be the new way we connect let’s look at some tips to maximize this style of networking.
1. I’m Ready for My Close-up
Have your camera on. Part of this is preparing to meet new people and what you would do if you were going to an in-person networking meeting. This includes what you are wearing and the energy you have coming into the meeting. Dress appropriately and be positive.
2. The Stage is Set
You have control of your backdrop and lighting so use them both to your advantage. Meeting someone in an online meeting is no different than meeting them face to face. First impressions count so make sure your lighting is good (we can see your face) and control the clutter and noise in the background. If you appear disorganized or too busy your potential client may be left with the impression that you don’t have time for them.
3. Missed Connections
A poor internet connection could mean the difference between making a great impression and making no impression at all. Imagine for a moment that you have the stage for your 30 second intro and the moment you speak you cut out completely. After that the moment may be lost. Worst part is, you may not even realise it. Connection is key!
4. A Smile is Your Umbrella
It’s a tough time for everyone and this may be your opportunity for a little support but remember this is no different than a face to face meeting. Your online handshake is an open, happy and engaged face. Stay active and engaged throughout the whole session. Resist the urge to pick up your phone, check for messages or do other work. Looking up to the screen shows others that you are interested in what the other participants have to say.
As we continue through this tough time together let’s focus on this new reality in the best way possible. We can forge deeper connections by mastering this type of networking and by managing the skills and tools needed to make the best first impression. This may require items and attitudes we may have never considered before that are now essential. Embracing them will allow us to move forward and add another dimension to our business.
Carrie-Ann Nihmey-Smye is the Membership Services Coordinator at the Richmond Hill Board of Trade and a small business owner of a women’s styling business.
Contact her at
T: 905-884-1961 Ext.27