How to SMASH online networking in five easy steps

So your normal networking just ground to a halt and suddenly you’re all meeting online? Terrific! Now, how to really make that work for you and your business in difficult times…

Online networking is something that’s quite new to a lot of people. I’m lucky, I’ve been part of a business coaching group for the last 12 months and we do this all the time, so I’m quite used to it. But if you’re a member of BNI, Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Business, 4N, this may be something you’re trying out for the first time. So I wanted to share with you some of the tips that have helped me over the last year to get the most out of online networking and make it not just a bit of fun and nice to connect, although it is both of those things, but something that really works for your business.

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So number one; most important thing, make a space for it. Make sure you’re somewhere where it’s relatively quiet. You won’t be disturbed. I spoke to someone just this morning, a client who said “I’m actually doing these all from my car outside my house” because it’s the only way you’ve not got the noise going on in the background, and everything – we’re all working from home, we’re in the same boat. I’m in my spare room today. Sometimes I’m in my campervan outside my house, but it’s all about making space so you can focus on what you’re going to be doing if you can. It’s worth doing.

Number two – on the same subject. Virtual backgrounds! These are my bugbear at the moment. Yes, they’re good fun and there are comedy options available to you, but I really would advise against going for animated backgrounds or very busy backgrounds. It doesn’t matter if you’re showing your house in the background because we’re in the same boat, though it is a good reminder to tidy up a bit as I’m reminding myself on a daily basis. But if you’re going to have a virtual background, make it plain. Don’t have a big logo behind your head because nobody can see it anyway. Have it off to one side so that people can see it if you want to have that there. But the thing to remember with the animated backgrounds in particular is your face drops in and out of the background. It’s really distracting and you want people focused on what it is you’re trying to get across.

Number three, this is your normal 60 seconds. If you’re used to going to networking and you’re used to saying to somebody over a cup of tea who you are, what you do and who you’d like to speak to, why they should work with you, keep that same format in your online networking. So always start with your name, your company name and what it is you do. Then have your normal 60 seconds, how you add value, how you can help people and finish up with your name, your company name and what it is you do. So it’s nicely put together just like you would in a normal face to face meeting.

Tip number four – in the middle of that little top and tail, make sure you share something that’s current. In the current Coronavirus situation, there are lots of people struggling to work from home or to make sense of what’s going on. Share something current. Share how you’ve helped someone this week. Share how you’ve reached out to a client or you’ve managed to save someone time or add value to their business – if you’re business to business. Or how you’re still in business, if you’re business to consumer. So make sure that you’re sharing something really current. It keeps people engaged.

And my last tip, number five, if you’re on Zoom, this is a great one. If there’s a little chat box going on down the side before the meeting starts, if there’s something you’re going to specifically mention, like somebody you’d like to speak to or a link to your website that you want to share or link to a Facebook post or something like that, you’d like people to share, have that typed up into a little text file before you begin. And then as soon as you finish your 60 seconds and you’ve finished with your name, your company, what it is you do, copy and paste that into the chat box. So anyone who didn’t quite catch it or didn’t have time to write it down, they can just click the link, it’s there for them. That one’s a real little gem.

So there you go. There’s five easy steps to get more out of your business networking online. If there’s anything else we can do to help you run your business online, it is our speciality. You can reach out to us and we can talk you through any of our little entry-level packages to help one man bands or one woman bands to keep going in these trouble times. But obviously we also offer our custom bespoke websites and database systems online for larger corporations. We’d love to talk to you, see if we can help.