The art of virtual networking
You have just secured for a virtual internship and you are thinking about how to make the most of it. You have just RSVP’d yes to an online virtual event and you are thinking about how to make the most it. You have just got a role in a new organization you are now working virtually and you are thinking how to make the most of it or you may just be in a situation when you are in a world where you have to be astute to virtual networking. This blog will discuss key points as to what you should be doing during a networking event.
Know the platform
Whether it is Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts, or any other platform as soon as you RSVP yes to the event you should be familiar with the platform that will be hosting it. Most online event descriptions will have the name of the platform it will be the host or as a rule of thumb expect the event to be hosted either by the three above or similar. Try ahead of time to ensure you have the platform download and get familiar with the tool. Most tools operate on a freemium type subscription model so you should be able to download and use a free version of the platform.
Whenever you are attending an event you should always bear in mind the 3’ws if you don’t have a response for any of the 3 w’s listed below, then you have to consider whether it is worth attending the event in the first place.
What is the event about? Whether it is about learning to code; Getting into finance; or anything else, it is important to understand what the event is about. Most events will normally have a description associated with it so to get a better understanding of the event/hosts it is worth examining the description as you want to avoid the mistake of making an assumption based on a title of the event.
Why are you attending? It is always good to establish reason whenever you commit to something. Whether it is to build up more connections, a job opportunity or to learn something, it is good to set out goals, this will give you a good mindset going into the event. This will also give you the motivation needed when you do attend the event.
When does the event happen? We often may come across an event that looks interesting and just RSVP yes, especially the free ones without really considering when the event actually is. You know what the event is and why you want to attend the event but, if are unable to make it you may think then it is a non-starter. One thing you can do is reach out to the organizers or find a way to track or subscribe to events so that when the organizers do another event you can plan ahead of the to ensure you are able to attend the event.
Build your network
You should be thinking of building your database of people, skills, and occupation. Whether you use tools like LinkedIn or Excel you should be adding as many people as you can, add the hosts, the attendees and this is the essence and the purpose of networking itself. One thing I notice is on both sides as an event organizer and event attendee is the lack of connecting during or after the event. You should think of each contact as an investment which could pay dividend one day.
There may be the obvious differences between remote and physical networking however, there are still commonalities to both types of networking:
- You still must go somewhere. Yes, given it is virtual you can do this from the comfort of your home, but you still must make the effort of navigating to the event albeit a link.
- You will be meeting new people.
- Opportunities to breakout and network. The technology utilized for virtual events are getting more sophisticated and mirror the effect of attending a physical event.
You may be in a situation where you are working remotely and this is your first experience and it might feel like a lonely place, this is where some of the points in this blog can be beneficial.A word on Remote
Note-taking is very important whether you use a word editor or the classic pen and paper when you attend networking events. Taking notes allows you to take key information during the event. During the event you might hear things that you want to follow-up on, you might observe key information like a job opportunity, shared goals from other attendees that you want to follow-up on. This can be a great conversation starter when you begin to connect with people and build your network after the event.
The morning after the night before
Now you have attended the event, if you have not done it already it is time to connect with as many people as you can. It is important to do this while the event is fresh in people’s minds and more importantly it is fresh in your mind. A personal note goes along way if you were to connect with someone via social media and this is where the previous paragraph of taking note is key.
Now you have it, you should use this as a guide when approaching virtual events and recognize if you have been going to physical events you can still use those skills with virtual events by following the guidance of this blog. Some people may find it difficult to start conversations during the event which is why understanding the purpose of your attendance is key and can used to start a conversation. The art of virtual networking does get more easier with experience and the only way to get experience is to put yourself out there.