Public speaking is my worst nightmare, despite (or, perhaps, because of) years of childhood elocution lessons. So, when I started running my own business almost twenty years ago, in-person networking – the only kind of networking, at the time – was my worst nightmare. I had no desire to stand up and sell myself in front of a roomful of strangers!
Cut to the summer of 2020. We were a couple of months into lockdown and many of the small businesses that made up my customer base were pivoting to make sales online. The local shops, many of which had never previously had websites, were now building e-commerce businesses, and many professionals offering services like coaching, counselling, and consulting were taking their businesses to Zoom. With the prospect of a new online market opening up, many of us were asking ourselves how best to connect with people in different parts of the country.
My twin sister had been running successful in-person networking groups across Essex, London and Herts, and she was facing a different dilemma. How could she continue to network and help businesses expand their reach when it was illegal to meet up in-person? We put our heads together and decided to launch a new business, ScreenPop, with online networking groups across the UK.
Our groups were still divided by area, so people could meet people close to them, but we offered monthly visits to other groups, so people could connect with businesses around the country. We quickly found that the businesses in our groups were gaining clients across the UK, finding ways to offer their products or services in new areas. We now offer three open meetings each month, where members based all over the place can make connections in breakout rooms and find out more about each other. Depending on your business category, you could attend 7 or 8 meetings a month.
Beyond offering the chance to expand your business’s reach, online networking is a totally different experience to in-person networking. While many people have had negative experiences with in-person networking groups, or are just too nervous to try them, networking online is low-pressure and easy. Our groups are friendly and informal and, for the public speaking-averse (me!), they’re far less nerve-wracking. There’s also a time benefit to networking online – no need to get in the car or walk across town: you can just open your laptop and hop on Zoom!
Although the pandemic is now a distant memory, online networking is here to stay. Businesses that expanded online during lockdowns are still benefitting from diversifying their income streams, and this stress-free way to network from your own home is a no-brainer.
If you’d like to explore what ScreenPop can do for you, contact us now to arrange your free visit!
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