We’re big fans of networking at J&PR; the benefits are endless for your business and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love meeting other fantastic people?
Unfortunately the days of having a natter (and enjoying cake and other good treats!) at a networking meeting are gone (for now!) and digital networking has replaced the traditional form.
So, what is digital networking?
Digital networking (also known as virtual and/or online networking) is exactly what it sounds like - networking, but digitally!
Digital networking will hugely benefit your business or your personal brand; getting to know other people on a personal level will mean your business pops straight into their head when they need something from your industry.
Remember, people buy into people… don’t hide behind your business’ page when networking digitally, people want to interact with you!
But why ‘digital’ networking?
At the moment, digital networking is really the only way to go. We are slowly moving out of a national lockdown and everyone should be working from home unless they are unable to.
While online networking is the only option at the moment, it was very much alive before the pandemic and we doubt it will be going too far when we can return to face-to-face networking.
The reality is, being able to network with other businesspeople virtually removes any barriers like location and calendar-clashes as it allows for far more flexibility.
Using online networking platforms such as LinkedIn and Clubhouse also allows you to have a virtual footprint and evidence of your business, personal brand, and skills. This means people can easily remember and find you if they ever need your business.
How can I network digitally?
There are ample ways to network digitally. Some of these include:
Trusty old LinkedIn
Arguably the largest ‘digital networking platform’, LinkedIn is the perfect place to interact with other businesspeople and make connections.
We recommend you spend at least 15 minutes on LinkedIn each day, interacting and engaging with other users. If you’re stuck on what to post, you know where you can find us...
The new kid on the block, Clubhouse could potentially become a big player in the online networking world.
Its audio-only features mean that people will tune in to listen to whatever conversation they fancy. If that so happens to be a networking-based conversation or anything of similar interest to your business, it’s the perfect way to get to know potential clients.
Even better, why not hold your own conversation on Clubhouse and network with your attendees? It will show you as a leader in the industry and a fountain of knowledge for people to come to when they are in need… or something magical like that...
Okay, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be Zoom…
Networking sessions normally take place locally over a bite to eat or at a conference. Naturally, this can’t happen at the moment and many of these networking events have taken themselves online for the time being.
There is a huge positive to this, as you can attend any networking event you like without geographical restrictions.
How will digital networking help my business?
We’ve already mentioned it a few times in this blog, but digital networking helps you to get your business out there and make those key connections.
What may seem like a quick interaction on LinkedIn, giving your thoughts on someone else’s post, maybe a lead for a potential new client.
Hosting a conversation on Clubhouse will absolutely generate interest around your business and it will also highlight to people why they need your services; show your expertise and your personal side all in one go. There aren’t many other times you are right in front of your absolute target audience who are already interested in what you have to say.
Traditional networking meetings and conferences have always been a huge success for businesses and things are no different now that these events have had to move online for now. Simply showing your face on a networking call and giving a quick brief on what you do and how you can help people could lead to plenty of interest.
Will virtual networking totally replace traditional networking?
There is more than enough room for both formats to co-exist with absolute success, and each has its own benefits.
With that said, there truly is something special in face-to-face conversations that can’t quite be replicated over a video call, so we don’t think virtual networking will totally wipe out the traditional format that we know and love. After all, any excuse to grab a bite to eat and talk business!
Top digital networking tips from the team at J&PR:
- Be yourself. We often behave differently behind screens, but people want to see the real you!
- Keep calm. The virtual room isn’t the same as the real room, where you’d introduce yourself whilst making coffee, but the friendliness and welcome from amazing businesses (usually the fabulous ones of Shropshire!) remains the same
- Ask for help before going to your first networking event. We'd recommend you ask someone you know who’s a regular networker for their top tips
- Change your display name to something that people will remember - your service. For example, Kirsty’s name is ‘Kirsty - PR and social media’ which means people remember her service
- Be cautious of what’s in the background… Microsoft Teams allows you to blur your background while Zoom allows you to upload an image that acts as a green screen. We’d recommend you do this to hide anything that may be lying around…
- Visit a variety of different networking events as you would do if you were visiting them at hotels and business venues.
- Assess what you’ve learned and gained through each networking session and consider the purpose of you being there; are you getting business from it?
- Make sure you’ve not got any filters on… we’re sure a certain lawyer wishes he’d realised this one in time...
- Don’t be afraid to take it out of the networking session. If there’s someone you’ve really clicked with and you want to chat to more, have a breakout session with them as soon as you can