As we continue to find ourselves in lockdown, we still shouldn’t underestimate the power of networking. Recently, I touched on this which you can read here. Below I’ve focused on a few highlights of how online networking can benefit you as a VA or aspiring VA, particularly during this time.
There are commonly two groups of networking that VAs can leverage as well as the usual industry institutes and associations:
– VA/PA/EA peers
– Business owners
We can gain different insights, positive outcomes and support from both. However, it’s the latter I am going to concentrate on here. Networking is invaluable – ideas from others are an integral part of how we develop in the ever-advancing business environment.
Now’s a great time to take advantage of many online events that are often now free to attend during lockdown. You can easily join without leaving your home saving you time, money and travel. Networking agendas are so relevant during this period of uncertainty – keeping a level of engagement is essential.
For business networks which typically use Zoom, you can ‘meet’ many more people than you might ordinarily meet at a face-to-face event. You gain greater exposure, becoming more memorable to a greater number of people, as everybody can see the screen (the whole room) with faces and names clearly visible; whereas at an in-person event you would not necessarily know who is in the room.
Two aspects of a Zoom call that stimulate a different dynamic are the Chat and Breakout rooms.
Chat – You can use this as a marketing tool, by adding your contact details and a brief intro to the chat so that potential clients can ‘chat’ directly with you there and then. Similarly, you can capture the other participants’ details simply by saving the entire chat to your device at the end of the meeting, which means that you can easily follow up later.
Breakout rooms – Zoom and other virtual meeting platforms have a function for breakout which can encourage more meaningful conversations within small groups. The informality helps to facilitate more open dialogue. This is a great way to be introduced to new people in an informal setting which can help remove any awkward protocol.
Finally, follow-up is key after networking. How many times have you taken the time to travel to a networking event and intended to connect with someone afterwards? Time passes and you fail to follow up… the moment’s gone! Now there is no excuse – you are already at your desk, having taken copious notes during the virtual network meeting and you can follow up immediately.
I’m finding virtual networking really exciting at the moment – it’s brought on a whole new and different meaning to networking!
For any VAs or aspiring VAs that have not joined a local group, I would encourage you to do so. Networking opens your mind to new ideas, and a greater vision and priority for yourself (and your business). You never know who or what opportunities may arise from networking from the people you meet. I can share personal stories for anyone interested to know more.
There is huge benefit to being part of business networking groups and taking the time to meet and collaborate.
The current COVID-19 situation has changed the landscape for networking and I think virtual networking is here to stay for a while so we should embrace it.