Recently I have been reviewing my networking strategy. I do this on an ad hoc basis and, as we all come blinking into the sunlight of a post-lockdown world (Yes, I know we are all still learning with the pandemic but, for now, this is where we are. Anyway, back to the networking strategy: All my strategy has been on the basis that we can meet face to face and since this is the type of networking, I had never attended a virtual networking event. In fact, I’m not sure I even knew of any networking online. On 23rd March 2020 all this changed. My amazing team of Group Directors took all our meetings online and we carried on and learnt how to navigate this new world.
Then we were told we could once again meet face to face and slowly people felt confident enough to come back together. But virtual networking didn’t go away. As a company we went back to face to face and didn’t keep any virtual meetings. But some face to face had become virtual like us but, unlike us, they have remained largely virtual with some face to face as an add on.
Of course, as business people do , some companies saw new opportunities during covid and so some virtual networking had started during Covid and stayed. I have spoken to some of these business owners, and they see this as their future and have no plans to change or include face to face networking. This got me thinking: Where does virtual fit within my networking strategy? It becomes part of it. I have five networking events booked into my diary for this week. Three face to face and two virtual. So virtual networking, seemingly, has become part of my strategy without me making a decision about it as part of my strategy.
In the future I see this as being usual for me. My preference has always been for face to face networking and this will not change. However virtual networking allows me to attend networking events which are further afield, and on days when time is a bit tight, I can still go networking. Of course some things stay the same:
- remember you are representing your business, so dress appropriately, no swearing and generally act professionally
- do you like to event, was it useful, did you like the format?
- always follow up after the meeting. Strengthen the connections and build relationship
If you would like some help with your networking strategy, do get in touch.
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