5 On-line Networking Tips
Updated: Oct 30, 2020
The virtual world is very different from the in-person networking world we are all familiar with. The well-trodden paths to getting to know someone has taken a lurch to the online world in a big way.
Here are 5 tips to get you performing better in this new environment
Know What You Want
Decide from the start the outcomes you want from your networking activities and set out to achieve those over the medium to long term. Networking is not a quick fix to your sales problems, it's very much a slow burn. Plus the fact that you will never truly know the value of your networking activities except when you realise you might be doing it incorrectly. Not being realistic about your goals is one such way we can sabotage our networking efforts.
Pay Close Attention
Resolve to learn from the high performers in your network by paying close attention to what they say, how they say it and the questions they ask. This could be from more than one person, of course. Make notes about who you are impressed with and why. What did they say that resonated with you? Many formal events have a key note speaker. Ask yourself what they do well and what you would do differently. Try to take as many positives from the session as possible. Confirmation that you do all these things is a poor teacher. Look for ways to do things differently.
Don't be a wall-flower
It's great to be a listener and I would generally advise that we should do more listening than talking for sure. Having said that, do not just listen. It can be a sign for others that you are a passenger on their train, not a participant. Whilst listening is an active verb, many will notice your non-participation negatively or just overlook you. This is the opposite of what you will be trying to project when you are networking.
Listen to Help Others
At the risk of contradicting myself, I'm now going to ask you to listen! The trouble with listening is that it can be seen as a negative. Engaging in the event and listening are all part of the rich experience of networking effectively. If you can do this effectively, then you are a master-networker.
Listen to help others is my way of saying that the purpose of your networking should be "what can I do to help others?" not "what can others do to help me?" You need to tap into the law of reciprocity by helping others rather than trying to get others to help you. What goes around comes around and your willingness to help others with an introduction to someone else, or signpost them to a helpful resource will reap rewards.
A word of caution though, do not try to help others expecting them to immediately help you in return. That's not how networking works. That will come over as manipulative. It will seem like you've only helped me to help yourself. That's not a good look.
The 90 Day Rule
Make a note of your network and diarise times when you will contact them. The 90 day rule applies to the maximum length of time you should leave it to make contact with people in your network. After that amount of time, you may be overlooked or even forgotten when opportunities arise.
I have lost count of the number of times that I have received enquiries for work after I called a contact just to network with them and catch up.
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