We are all starting to get used to this now, aren’t we? The lengthy commute from our bedrooms to makeshift offices in our dining rooms. Our personal selection of speciality coffees and teas are immediately to hand. Being home at “a reasonable time”. There are some perks to this lockdown, after all. Even if we do miss the networking breakfasts that we had all become accustomed to.
Yes, we now must feed ourselves again.
No fried breakfast in a conference room. No hotel lattes. And, no continental Danish pastries to put in our bags for later.
More importantly, we aren’t coming away quite so frequently clutching a cluster of hard-chinwagged business cards. Yet, we still need to find prospects and collaboration opportunities.
The lockdown hasn’t suppressed that need.
In fact, if anything, we need it more than ever now.
So, let’s network.
Start with a little LinkedIn networking
Where is the best place to find a load of professionals in your area online? Wait, the question is flawed. Let me try again.
Where is the best place to find a load of professionals?
You see, there are literally millions of people on LinkedIn. The entire platform is geared towards professional people. On here you can find all the decision-makers, the industry specialists, and even the freelancers. All of which might present you with opportunities.
So, in much the same vain that you would walk a fresh filter coffee up to someone in a networking lunch, connect with someone on LinkedIn. And instead of saying hello with a mouth full of salmon sushi in a local hotel, say hello by writing a little note when you connect on LinkedIn. Tell them why you want to connect, ask them a question or tell them something about their content.
Anything to get that old ice broken.
Typing away on LinkedIn might not appeal to you. In fact, if you are making connections it might take them time to get back to you. So perhaps arranging something for people to attend might be better than impromptu connection requests.
Like a Skype meeting.
Or Zoom if you like.
Using social media, you can advertise the networking live lunch that you create on one of these platforms. Obviously, getting people into a networking meeting in Skype needs some structure. Either that, or you run the risk of having multiple screens of people looking awkward.
Or talking over each other.
So do a talk. Give a small little lecture or presentation about a topic.
Then give everyone the chance to talk about their own business.
This way people can begin to pique the interest of other cyber-attendees.
It doesn’t matter how you structure your online networking lunch, as long as you make sure that every attendee has the opportunity to benefit from it.
Stay in great Shapr
Nope, that is not a typo. It’s a thing. Quite a useful thing in fact.
For those born in that generation that makes friends online easier than in real life, this is for you. It’s like Tindr. But the hook-ups are decidedly more professional.
One would hope.
However, Shapr uses many of the same mechanics that dating apps have always used. This is networking with added swipe-right. It attempts to connect people who work in the same industry, and therefore might share interests and objectives.
The main problem with this, however, is that you can only connect with people the app has matched you with. And, they look for common ground between accounts. That, in itself, is fine if you are solely looking for collaborative projects. But to meet prospects, it doesn’t seem that this app understands that opposites attract.
Someone skilled in social media management doesn’t necessarily have much use for a professional social media manager.
Despite the difficulty you will have trying to make a sale, it is useful for sharing ideas and building relationships within the industry.
Facebook groups are not a new concept. They don’t need explaining, most of us are in at least one Facebook group as it is. But Slack doesn’t seem like an obvious choice. What you see is a stereotypical project management tool. So not normally what you would expect to be a networking breakfast substitute.
But that is one of my most used networking channels. In one platform I am integrated and am networking daily with a group of people from all over the world. And, not only that, you can share your content with each other for consumption.
And, it works a treat for that.
Especially since everyone can invite new members.
Facebook groups work in a very similar way. You are networking in your group and sharing content for people to comment on.
Meeting new people doesn’t need to be a suited-and-booted coffee-wielding affair. And, it certainly doesn’t have to stop because of social-distancing and a lockdown.
You aren’t the only business operating in a vacuum. Your customers are still working, which means your prospects are still working.
And so are other people within your industry.
And if you need to do a spot of networking, then so do other people.
Gone are the days that we can sit waiting for the phone to ring. You need to get out there and swipe a few rights.
If there is anything you wish to add to the conversation, please leave a comment below. Or find me on LinkedIn and connect so we can talk!