DID THE PANDEMIC PUT AN END TO GOOD OL’ NETWORKING?
"Networking is not about just connecting people. It's about connecting people with people, people with ideas, and people with opportunities."
- Michele Jennae
THE PANDEMIC HAS DEFINITELY MESSED GOOD OL’ NETWORKING UP.
Our business development executive, Marcus, can tell you something about it. Oh boy, he tried to get us on the right track the second the pandemic started! Despite the overwhelming circumstances he had a plan where the term “let’s move our meetup to zoom” wasn’t a problem… It seemed like an opportunity to start networking online.
Soon enough we found out, what at the beginning sounded promising, was in fact a complete disaster. Not for the lack of trying though.
After weeks of witnessing multiple online networking events going stale and unproductive, we began to understand that what works in person has actually zero chances of working online. Let’s face it - the era of collecting paper business cards is over. It’s like putting a one-pager website billboard and expecting a conversion. Delusional and irrelevant - would make a good meme but won’t benefit any sales process.
NETWORKING ONLINE - NEW REALITY, NEW RULES.
So is there a way to do it right? Is the in-person relationship model even possible to achieve in the digital space? 2020 has definitely brought some valid, bitter-sweet lessons to our sales team! While we were attending classic zooms with classic sales pitches (which honestly made us go to sleep after the first two PowerPoints), Tony Robbins was preparing his first “ONLINE COVID EVENT”.
The event that was about to change the way we connect online and set some awesome networking tips and tricks for everyone to follow! “But Tony isn’t a networker, he’s a motivational speaker” you probably thought immediately. But social networking itself is all about making others feel important. No long-lasting relationship was ever built without putting the other person first.
And this is exactly what Tony did. He not only provided MASSIVE value to his audience. He also created a sense of community, of belonging to a tribe you can relate to. You can compare it to the way you used to feel while visiting your networking event at your local diner… Tony did not sell anything, he gave away as much positive energy as he possibly could.
On the giant screen his production team built for him, he made sure everyone was visible, important, and acknowledged. When was the last time you felt like this during Zoom? Honestly, I’ve attended networking video conferences with 5-6 attendees where I felt that my voice not only wasn’t validated but wasn’t even asked for…
I bet many of you can relate. During these “unprecedented times” (literally LOL I had to use that phrase) people are more lonely and desperate for a sale than ever… and this type of mindset is the last one we should be bringing to the table while networking.
SO IS THERE A WAY TO MAINTAIN QUALITY NETWORKING ONLINE?
Absolutely... under several conditions though:
- EXPRESS GENUINE INTEREST IN WHAT YOUR PROSPECT IS DOING BEFORE REVEALING WHAT YOU DO. Think of it as a long-term game where your offer doesn’t appear on the chat, email, or zoom unless it’s specifically asked for. Remember - your potential customer must express an interest in you first.
- GAIN NEW RELATIONSHIPS WHILE DOING SOMETHING VALUABLE FOR OTHERS. Join a Facebook group for lonely entrepreneurs. Organize and brand new mastermind for your colleagues. Host a webinar where you share your know-how without selling anything.
- DON'T ATTEND EVERY SINGLE EVENT. Find one or two, show up regularly, and express genuine interest in people and their needs. Find something you like so the commitment will be easier. And remember not to show up only to close the deal, focus on paying attention to the new group.
- BE PROACTIVE. Even if the event you attend lacks creativity, don't wait for others to entertain you. Noone likes "party poopers" and bringing some sunshine comes a long way!
- USE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS TO PERFORM RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS. There is nothing better than a newly acquired colleague liking our content on professional networks - definitely a way to go on LinkedIn.
IS IT HARDER THAN GOOD OL’ TRADITIONAL NETWORKING?
When was the last time you participated in an online hangout without someone’s offer being shoved down your throat? Remember that online requires way more patience, genuine presence, and attention to detail. We definitely need more effort and lack of originality won’t get you anywhere.
So no more flooding your LinkedIn network with sales links, K? Lead generation will come naturally if you stop pushing so hard.
I wish you and your business development team a successful 2021, full of online events you love and new, interesting professional relationships, and new job opportunities! May the online networking force be with you! I pledge to revisit this post in Q3 and report Raise Your Media’s Team networking efforts!
By Dominika Thompson | January 5, 2021