Leveraging Remote Networking Events
We participate in networking events and conferences for the educational benefits as well as the opportunity to make meaningful connections and expand our network. At the beginning of the Pandemic these events were being cancelled left and right. Now as time has passed, organizations have figured out how to successfully host these events virtually. These on-line events are proving to once again be meaningful networking opportunities.
To maximize the value of these events, you must be intentional – just like with one on one mentoring. Be deliberate about who you need to have as part of your network. Consider the following tips as you work on expanding your network by attending these events:
Prior to the Session
Prepare as much as possible. Like in person events, be clear on why you want to attend and have specific goals on what you want to achieve. In addition to acquiring new knowledge, maybe you want to introduce yourself to five attendees with the intention of connecting with them after the event.
Consider the topic and, if known, Google the speaker(s) and get a sense of their point of view. Prepare a few thoughtful questions. You’ll be ready to add to the conversation which will get other’s attention and increase their interest in connecting with you.
When attending larger conferences take advantage of the technology they provide. Use their app, add your bio so others can find you and cull the attendee list to identify individuals with whom you want to connect. Also consider using social media to publicize that you are attending the event. It will show others what you are interested in and may get those in your network to participate as well giving you an opportunity to reconnect.
During the Event
Most importantly, block the time to fully participate. Do not try to multi-task which is a real temptation when you are remote. You will not get the full value of the session. You need to be engaged and participate – you wouldn’t go to a live networking event and look at your phone the whole time. Focus, ask questions and add to the dialogue.
A simple thing to remember is to have your full name listed on the screen. No one can look you up on LinkedIn or reach out to you if all they see listed on the screen is Nancy or Nancy’s I-Pad!
Most events have an opportunity for those participating to introduce themselves in the chat. Write what you want to say prior to the session and just cut and paste. This way you can be focused on seeing who else is on the call versus being distracted by creating your introduction. During the session utilize the chat feature to start conversations with others. Engage them in a brief exchange that you can follow-up on later. If the session has breakouts by all means participate. It will provide a more intimate opportunity to really connect with a few people.
Follow-up quickly while the event is fresh in everyone’s mind – best is within 24 hours but at least within three days. Reach out on LinkedIn with an invite and a brief message referencing the session. Once the invitation is accepted, request a brief 15 to 30 minute call or Zoom (with Zoom being the preference to enhance that connection). If you haven’t heard back in a week, politely follow-up – we are all busy, they may have missed the message – only 40% of LinkedIn users check their account on a daily basis.
Also use social media to share your takeaways from the session and tag those new connections. This will give you visibility as well as your new connections. If the event has hashtags be sure to use them for maximum exposure and to increase the chance you will hear from other participants.
Networking is critical for professional development and career success so take advantage of these remote opportunities. They are actually easier to attend then the live sessions used to be – no travel or commute and from the comfort of your own home! An issue now is that there are so many to choose from. Again, be intentional and purposeful as you only have so much time. It is better to attend fewer sessions and maximize the value of those opportunities.
And now it’s your turn.
Our next issue will get to the specifics of “how” to gain skill and impact in networking specifically for 2021. We’d like to include your insights! Three questions and one piece of advice based on your experience.
Thanks in advance for sharing your wisdom!