It’s been a busy month getting back into the swing of planning work and networking. Its hard to find the right amount to do weekly and even harder to find the right networks to join.
Thinking back to when I first started and attending my first zoom meeting with 15 other faces on zoom looking at me was quite intimidating. Juggling technology, your appearance on zoom and having a killer pitch to sell yourself felt a lot to deal with. Not to mention if the other attendees have questions you need to sound confident!
But it does get easier once you have a few attempts under your belt.
I wanted to share with you some tips I have learnt over the course of my time networking both face to face and on zoom. I signed up to networking events originally to try them and learn from the other attendees, and I did learn through trial and error (or speaking gobbledegook!).
So, if your just starting out or getting back into the networking saddle here are some tips, I wish I knew before I threw myself in the deep end.
- Dress up, kind of an obvious one but if you feel smart you will look it. If you do go for face to face then also make sure you’re comfortable as you don’t want to be a sweaty mess from nerves.
- Know your mute button, clearly for an online meeting. I have sat on a few meetings with attendees who forget to mute themselves which came across as rude or they start talking to the group but forget to switch it off. My lip reading abilities have improved but it’s still kinda hard to hear your points.
- Have LinkedIn at the ready, if you’re on an online meeting why not have your LinkedIn set up ready to search for an attendee you want to connect with straight away. Obviously don’t be rude and ignore other attendees doing their pitches, I always try to do mine after a break out room as you get to know the attendee better.
- Save the chat for online meetings, if you cant connect with everyone or you didn’t get a chance to have a 121 on a breakout then having their details will be handy for later follow ups.
- Connecting and arranging 121s, do this after the event or at least on the same day. We are all busy and if we don’t, we will just not get round to it and a potential business relationship may slip out the window.
- Invest in a network, it’s a big ask for a new business but you need a community to be on your side. Find a suitable network that fits you personally, I tend to ask myself questions like: Are they supportive or clicky?, how much is the network going to cost me?, How often do they meet and can I attend this?, Do you prefer face to face or online meetings?, What do they expect from me (referrals, bringing visitors)?, Do they have other events such as workshops I can attend?. It is a big decision to find and join a network but you have to feel its right for you, trying attending a few times if your not sure.
- Other attendees with the same business is not competition, I understand why a lot of networks have single business category seats but this isn’t always the best. I love finding other VA’s to connect with and I love to listen to their pitches, to me it’s a learning opportunity. If you do come across another attendee with the same business offer, have a chat with them. I promise it isn’t scary and you could find they have potential clients to pass on. One of my closest work friends is also a VA and we can bounce ideas off each other to help build both companies, neither of us ever saw the other as the enemy!
- The 60 seconds pitch, it can be so daunting when you finally have to stand up or unmute yourself. Your mouth dries out and the words just don’t seem to come out like you practiced, trust me we have all been there. I think I became queen of gobbledegook as it felt like it happened all the time! Have your pitch on a word document next to your zoom screen if you’re online or just focus on one person in the room if your face to face. Take it slow and remember to breath!
- Also on the pitch front, change it up on a regular basis so it keeps everyone up to date on what you can do.
- Take a photo, attending a networking event is a great marketing opportunity. So let the world know on your social media pages, as they say its called social media for a reason, be social!
- Local versus Global, depending on your business services why not try meetings based in other areas. One of my first weeks in business I travelled the country virtually visiting different networks, it was a blast, and I met some fascinating people who I still keep in contact with.
- Finally, get there early for both online and face to face. I find if your there you can settle in and chat with others , find the best seat and calm any nerves.
I hope you found these useful, the world of networking is ever evolving and can be daunting when diving straight in.
If you have any good tips or have questions please do get in touch as I would love to hear them.
So, I shall sign off for now and plan a few more networking meetings in. I hope you have a successful February, and I shall catch you all soon.
P.S The Gruffalo was great at his 60 second pitch!