Beyond the Business Card: Online Networking Success – Even for Introverts

Online networkingOnline networking
Personally, I have grown to love online networking. It is amazing how quickly and easily you can begin and expand a relationship even though you do not meet in person. I also appreciate the time it saves me without a commute or the where-to-find-parking dilemma.

So, where do you find online networking? In the past few years, the number of opportunities has multiplied significantly. You’ll find a wide variety of choices, such as social media communications and groups, online masterminds, speed networking, referral-based groups, industry-based gatherings, specialty groups, and celebrations.

Preparing for events
With all the choices, you’ll want to think about why you are networking. Your goals will help you decide which type of online event to attend. For a few examples: are you interested in meeting collaborators, prospects, referral sources, peers, or consultants?

When you are invited to an online event, ask a few questions about the people you may meet and the agenda and format of the meeting. You’ll gain confidence in having an idea of what to expect—and if it’s a good fit. Be sure to register for the event and add it to your calendar with links and any reminders you’ll need when you join the call.

Calling all introverts…
Here’s the fabulous news for introverts: online networking is an easy and comfortable way to meet new people. When you “Zoom” into an online event, you don’t encounter the awkward entrance that may occur at in-person meetings. You are there like magic, greeted by someone and included in the conversation or agenda without having to wonder what to do next. Just relax and be yourself.

A few tips to make it even easier:

  • Have your business card information typed out and ready to copy and paste into the Chat section of the virtual meeting. This info should be brief: name, company name, tagline, email, phone, and/or LinkedIn URL.
  • Decide ahead of time how you will briefly introduce yourself. This could be a sentence or two of what you do to bring happiness to your clients. Or, it could be a quick invitation (with a link in the Chat) to an event you are attending or hosting.
  • Do what you do best: listen. You likely have better-than-average listening skills which will pay off when networking. Listen and ask thoughtful questions.
  • Take notes and jot down names and contact info for people you would like to know better. Later, ask them for a one-to-one, get-acquainted call (not a sales call). Many events have an agenda with names and contact info listed, and you can typically save the information in the Chat to capture key details for follow-up purposes.

Extroverts and Ambiverts…
If you consider yourself an extrovert, you’ll do well at online networking. Enter with ease and make everyone feel welcome. You’ll lead the pack when necessary and be remembered kindly for it.
Perhaps you are a self-proclaimed ambivert like me (truly an introvert but willing and ready to adapt because I am genuinely interested in people). In this case, you won’t monopolize a conversation, but you will show interest in others by asking about themselves and their work. Even if you aren’t the loudest or most verbal person in the group, you’ll make a good impression with your 100% engaged presence and awarding-winning smile.

Follow up focus
Remember your goals for attending the event and follow up accordingly. Who did you meet that you’d love to learn more about? Ask for an online or phone chat to get better acquainted. Be sure to do just that—no selling allowed! Building relationships in a respectful way achieves much better results.

If you would like ideas on specific virtual networking events that are comfortable, productive, and energizing, I’m happy to share. Happy networking!