Networking online might be a practical alternative to in-person meetings, but that doesn’t mean it comes without its challenges. Learning to come across at your best over Zoom is a skill, but anyone can learn to do it by following a few simple rules. Today, we’re sharing our top tips to network well online.
1. Camera on, mic off!
Networking is all about building personal relationships with potential customers, collaborators and contacts. The last thing you want to do is cut off that connection by turning your camera off. Being visible indicates that you’re listening to what others are saying, so unless you need to answer the door or leave the room for a moment, keep your camera on.
Microphones are another story. If it’s not your turn to talk, it’s important to mute yourself so that you don’t distract other people with background noise. Everyone has had the odd muting mishap, but it’s good etiquette to habitually turn your mic off when your moment has finished.
2. Framing is everything
Check your camera set-up, lighting and background ahead of time. Avoid unflattering angles and visible clutter! Never sit with your camera on your lap – as a rule, it’s best to keep it at eye level. We generally recommend using a Zoom background when you’re in a meeting. This has a few great benefits: it masks any mess in the background and can also be branded, helping people remember who you are and what you do.
3. Optimise your body language
We recently attended a brilliant talk from our member, Tracey Baum, who taught us all about optimising our body language to network well online. We learned one of the most important things when networking online is looking friendly and engaged. Make sure that you look into the camera, rather than at the screen, when you’re talking, and try to keep smiling!
4. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail
Plan what you’re going to say ahead of time. Umming and ahing is a great way to make your fellow networkers lose interest. It’s a good idea to write down a few bulletpoints, but make sure you aren’t just reading directly from a bit of paper. It’s obvious to others when you’re doing this and it breaks the connection you have with your listeners.
5. Make the most of the chat function
Zoom’s chat function is there for a reason! There are a variety of ways to make the most of it. Firstly, always put your details in the chat for others’ ease of access. Secondly, you can use the private chat to talk to other attendees directly, arrange 1:1 meetings, or answer queries. The chat is also a great place to offer feedback on people’s presentations or introductions without disrupting the flow of the meeting!
6. Connect with people on other platforms
After a meeting ends, it’s easy to log off and get on with your day. However, if you take five minutes after each meeting you attend to connect with the people you’ve met on other platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram, you’ll make sure you stay at the forefront of their minds.
7. Get to know your fellow members in 1:1s
One of the most common ways I see our members going wrong is failing to organise 1:1 calls after the meeting. Talking to people individually is the best way to intensify your connections and get the most out of your network. Even if a fellow member isn’t a potential customer, they may know someone who is, or be able to help you in other aspects of your life. Aim to have at least 2-3 1:1 calls a month to get to know people, and stick to your appointments!
Learning to network well online is all about being authentic and approachable, while making the most of your connections.
If you’d like to hear about more ways to network well online, why not download Katherine’s free ebook, The Networking Bible?
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