Summer Networking Strategies…During a Global Pandemic
When summer rolls around, we are usually the first to hop onto the slow-down train. You know, enjoy the lazy summer days, spend time with family and friends, and just kind of shift the priority of work a bit. But there is always one rule to summer: don’t forget your network.
If it were any other year, we’d give you some great summer networking tips that involve you getting out and about. But this year…well those tips aren’t quite so practical. Instead, we’ve collected some great socially distanced networking tips to help you keep your network almost as warm as the weather.
Don’t Forget About The People You Already Know
Show the love. You’ve already got an established network, no matter how large or small it is. And every single person in that network can appreciate a check–in message that shows you are thinking about them and you care.
Summer is great because it IS slow. Most businesses slow down for the summer. Which means plenty of people have a little extra time to engage in a conversation. Think of a few simple actions you can take to help reconnect with people in your network. Your goal of reconnecting is to A) remind them you exist, B) update them on what’s new and going on with you, and C) to learn what is new and going on with them.
Ideas on how you can connect with someone since no one is obviously heading out to after-5 drinks, industry events, networking events, or even coffee meetings:
- Invite them for a video call over Zoom, Facetime, Slack, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger…whatever your chosen video platform is.
- Check out apps like Marco Polo that allow you send video messages to people (the recipient has to be on Marco Polo as well…so you would have to invite them there…this is more of a long term engagement you’d be striving for here.)
- Use video tools like Vidyard or Loom where you can create a video message and email a link to the video.
- Send a hello email with a $5 digital gift card to a local coffee shop (let’s all do our best to support small local biz!!) and say you’d love to meet them for a coffee, but since that’s not happening, have a coffee on you.
Aim to have a conversation with them, not just a quick email exchange. Have a real-deal convo with them and learn about what’s happening with them and determine if and how you can help them. And then do the things you can do to help them. It’s one thing to drop in with a hello, but totally another to carry it forward and make an impact.
Add New People To Your Network
We’re not talking about swapping out of your 10 people in your social circle, but we’re definitely talking about finding ways to meet and engage with new people who could either fall within your target audience OR who can connect you to your target audience.
If you are thinking meeting them is the challenge right now…well…ok, it kind of is. But only if you let it!! We might all be a little screen-timed-out and feeling the overwhelm of social media, but it’s where it’s at these days. Which means we’re talking about the global village here. The possibilities are endless of who you can connect with online.
So how you do find those people?
- Ask your current network to connect you to someone new. If you are going to spend the time keeping your network warm and doing nice things when you can, it’s 100% ok for you to ask for connections and introductions in return.
- Update your social media profiles – both personal and professional. Make sure they clearly state who you are, what you do, and who you serve.
- Don’t just look for people who fit your target audience. Look for people who can act as connections to your target audience. When you reach out to someone to connect, be sure to include a message that gives context as to why you are connecting.
- Host a virtual networking night. Create a schedule, get some speakers, and make it an exciting, fun, and relevant event that will attract people to join. Set some goals in the event to encourage attendees to connect in real-time (perhaps with break-out rooms).
When you are first connecting with people, remember that simple is best. Have a short and quick intro about yourself and then dive into a real conversation with someone. Don’t just talk about yourself or deliver a sales pitch. Show interest in who they are and what they do and talk about real life things that are happening. The most important part of networking is remembering we’re all humans who are seeking human connections…we’re not seeking sales conversations.
Looking to grow your network? Head on over to our free online community, The Define + Design Tribe and join us! We’d love to have you in there.