We asked fellow W. P. Carey Alumni: What tips would you share for successful virtual networking?
Here are seven virtual networking tips they shared:
- Start Early and Be Intentional
- Have the Right Mindset and a Plan.
- Do Your Research
- Make a Good First Impression
- Small Talk Still Matters
- Screen Shot Group Events
- Find Your People
Start Early and Be Intentional
I was not an early adopter of LinkedIn. I already had about 10 years of work experience by the time it was launched and had lost track of contacts I had made in prior positions. More recently, I have made a point to connect with almost everyone I meet. Over the years, people take on greater responsibility and move into new positions. You never know when your paths may reconnect. It might open the door to a new job, or business opportunity. But that shouldn’t be your only motivation. Relationships matter and can outlast careers.
Scott Dever, ‘90 W. P. Carey MBA, GRMS | Global Risk Management Solutions
Have the Right Mindset and a Plan
Mindset ~ Networking is about building relationships, not making sales. This means that everyone you meet has value, even if they will never be your customer. Also, by developing relationships that align the most with your values and goals, you are creating a network of people who care for your success.
Pick 4 to 5 values that you are looking for in potential relationships and rank each person you meet on a scale of 1 to 5. Those who rank higher are the ones you want to follow up with within 1 to 2 days. Those who score lower are the ones you want to send an email/LinkedIn message saying it was wonderful meeting them. Then you keep up with them via their social page(s).
Lastly, planning ~ Here are specific questions to answer as you’re building your plan:
- Why are you attending this networking event?
- How are you going to measure value?
- What’s your plan to follow up with those you meet?
- Do you have all your information ready to share online?
Pearl W. Filani, ‘01 W. P. Carey MBA, Lady Jewel
Do Your Research
The best tip to share for becoming a successful virtual networker has to be researching who you want to reach out to beforehand. We have access to so much information that a simple Google search, social media search, or word-of-mouth digging could provide an excellent way to spark up a conversation. If you want someone to truly remember you, you should ask a question or make an introduction that connects to strong aspects of that person’s life. Maybe you both have a similar work history or enjoy rock climbing. Being personal, approachable, and memorable all starts with a trip to the virtual library.
Colin Romaglia, ‘21 W. P. Carey Certificate, Sales and Marketing Essentials, bChannels Inc.
Make a Good First Impression
Think about your background and lighting – how you present is so important. Try to sit facing a window to ensure you’re not backlit. If a window or light source is right behind you, it’ll wash you out. Also, be mindful of what’s in your background to prevent any distractions from the conversation. You can even get fun with it and find a Zoom virtual background online to use!
Lindsay Hahn,‘18 W. P. Carey Certificate, Marketing & Sales Essentials, Greater Phoenix Economic Council
Small Talk Still Matters
I’ve always stressed that one of the most important tenets of success in business is relationship building. The pandemic and our switch to “virtual everything” has made building relationships at work harder but not any less important. If you are working remotely, my advice is to make time for small talk. A casual exchange about your pets or the latest pop culture news contributes so much to building rapport with your team members (and makes work so much more enjoyable). So, make sure to join in on the small talk before Zoom meetings, take part in virtual happy hours, if your company hosts them, and be proactive and schedule catch-up or, if you’re at a new job, “get to know you” meetings. By taking the initiative to get to know people, you are building the rapport that will help you advance your career.
Anela Perviz, ‘13 W. P. Carey B.S. Management, Modiv
Screen Shot Group Events
At all group events, screenshot the participants to create a follow-up list, with reminders of who and why you have a meaningful connection. Use the chat to sidebar greetings and conversations to acknowledge individuals you already know. Contribute concise solutions-based questions, resources, or events relevant and valuable to the group. Attend regularly, edit your nametag accordingly, and announce your affiliation to build recognition (always with a smile).
Felicity Blackwater, ‘09 W. P. Carey Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies – Business & Communication, Purpose Community Goal Network
Find Your People
Most professional cohorts have developed communities uniquely geared toward making virtual connections. Step one is narrowing your focus to communities that have people you’re looking to connect with as a part of them. Step two is narrowing to those communities with robust virtual options (Slack/Teams groups, monthly webinars, or virtual meetups). Step 3 is joining and adding value so the community can learn what you can bring, and what you’re looking to get from the community!
Vinnie Cholewa, ‘10 W. P. Carey MBA, Relode
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