So, how is networking at a virtual event different? The answer is that in many ways it’s not. Your purpose for attending an event whether to connect with a vendor, seek new customers or as part of a job search, hasn’t changed. Yes, some of how you achieve success at a virtual is the same while some of what you do at a virtual event is new and different.
10 Steps to Successfully Networking at a Virtual Event
1. Come Prepared
This is no different than being prepared for an in-person event. Research the event. Review the attendee list, know what you want. and be able to talk intelligently about it.
2. Test Your Equipment
Regardless of the app used for the virtual meeting, you should try it before the event. If nothing else, sign up for a Zoom or Goggle Meeting account and try it on for size. Take it for a test drive. Chat with a friend.
3. Dress Appropriately
Even if you think no one will see your PJ bottoms, don’t do it. What if, heaven forbid, you get up to get something? And besides, clothes affect how we feel about ourselves, for example, put on the gardening clothes and you’re ready for yard work, wear professional garb and you feel professional.
4. Limit Distractions
I recently talked about how important this is during a virtual meeting, when a friend asked me to tell that to her one and four-year-old daughters. So, yes, it can be difficult, but do your best to pick a time and place where distractions are limited and let others know you’re on DND (do not disturb)!
5. Frame Your Image
Focus the screen on your head and shoulders, not the top of your head or your entire torso, as seen from 10 feet away. Think, professional headshot when setting up your image.
Avoid busy backgrounds. I like to show my bookcase behind me in friendly meetings, but I wouldn’t in a professional setting. It’s much too distracting. I’m sure I’m not the only one who tries to see what others are reading.
And lighting is critical. Be sure the lighting is in front of you, not behind. I turn off the overhead light in my home office and then point a desk lamp, which sits in front of me, in my direction.
6. Make Eye Contact
So, how do you make virtual eye contact? It’s simple. Concentrate on looking at the lens. Do not look at your image, others in the meeting, or across the room. Keep your eyes on the prize – the camera.
7. No Task Switching
Do not stop and look at your phone, turn and look at your calendar, or take time away to check … whatever. Stay focused. There is nothing more important than the event you’re attending. A lack of focus is not a good message to send.
Multitasking is a myth. The brain doesn’t work that way. “As much as you might feel like you have the ability to read your email, talk on the phone, and engage in a Facebook Messenger chat all at once, it’s literally impossible. What you’re doing is playing multiple games of “red light/green light” in your brain — constantly starting and stopping each task repeatedly. This is known in psychology as “serial tasking,” not multitasking.” — Why Multitasking Is a Myth That’s Breaking Your Brain and Wasting Your Time.
This may be the most impactful suggestion I’ll make in this subhead. While you’re attending an event turn off notifications. Check them on your schedule, not the pings schedule. If you’d like more ideas try this, How Multitasking is Killing Your Productivity and What to do about it
Set boundaries, which is easy for me to say. Unlike my daughter, who teaches classes several hours a day, creates curriculum, advises students one-on-one, while homeschooling her two middle schoolers, and dealing with a husband that is also working from home, I only have my wife and me. However, we inform each other when we are not to be disturbed. So, let those around you know when you are not to be interrupted. Shut your door, put a do not disturb sign on it. Mark your work times on a calendar, whiteboard, or a sheet of paper on the fridge.
8. Speak Clearly with Confidence
Speak in a strong and clear voice. Don’t shout but speak to be heard and speak with confidence. You sound confident when you use lowered inflection. What is lowered inflection? Think of a sheet of music where the notes start high and descend. When you speak with lowered inflection, you sound confident. The opposite, rising inflection (upspeak) sounds unsure, questioning, and shows a lack of confidence.
9. Be Aware of Your Body Language
For example, crossing your arms can be a sign of defensiveness, touching your mouth as you speak might be taken as you’re holding something back. Look into the lens, keep your shoulders straight, posture up no slouching, and smile. Yes, smile.
10. Follow Up
Ask anyone you connect with what the best method of follow up is, and then follow up.
Networking at a Virtual Event
Networking at a virtual event isn’t all that different from networking in person. Your reason for attending an event, whether live or virtual is the same. The basics such as smile, listen, and look for ways to help, haven’t changed. The difference is being prepared and making sure you didn’t leave the mute button on.
How Can I Help You?
I’d always considered myself an effective networker. I’m friendly, easy to talk to, and I’ve never met a stranger. However, none of that makes me a good networker – it makes me outgoing. If I wanted to be the most effective networker I could be, I needed a plan. That’s how my networking workbook, Help Networking started.
I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me.
So, does your business have a management training plan? Because, if not, many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.