With the ubiquity of news and articles surrounding COVID-19, one might be tempted to think that’s the only thing happening right now. We’re living in a point in time when everyone around the globe is facing the same situation at the same time and no one is immune.
Clearly, the way in which leaders are accustomed to doing many things has shifted significantly through this pandemic. This includes the tried-and-true strategies for building business relations as leaders attempt to network with each other.
Be very mindful to consider what you want to achieve from networking events. Keep whatever your goal is at the front of your mind as this will guide you as you connect with other leaders.
Although there has been a significant decrease in the number of physical events and the number of persons that can be present at such events, connecting in person is still happening on a smaller scale. So how do leaders successfully meet, greet and mingle in the pandemic era? How must we augment and amplify our networking game? Here are a few tips and tricks.
1. Put down the phone and talk to strangers.
Whether by intent or simply a way to hide the nerves, it has become commonplace to pay more attention to our mobile devices than being fully present when we are with others. To ace your networking game, be mindful of your environment and be more respectful to those around you. This will make you stand out among everyone else.
2. Ask questions.
We all love when others show interest in us. The best way to leave a lasting impression on someone is to genuinely show interest in that person. Asking questions about what is important to others will allow you to identify the areas in which there are common grounds. This further leads to building rapport. A secret to building deep connection starts with rapport, aiding in the know, and trustability factor.
3. Focus on quality, not numbers.
When you attend an event, you may have a goal to talk with as many people as possible. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with trying to connect with as many people as you can, however, it is important to remember that when it comes to networking, quality matters over quantity. It is prudent you put your energy into having meaningful conversations with a select few people over shallow conversations with many.
4. Listen attentively.
Piggybacking off the point above, prioritizing numbers over quality conversations can cause you to lose focus as you develop a wandering eye away from the person whose immediate attention you have. If you are focused elsewhere, staking out the next person you’d like to meet, you won’t give your full attention to the person you are currently talking with. This divided attention affects how much you can listen intently. You may miss something important that is being said that you could very well use to advance your cause in the future.
5. Have clear networking goals.
Be very mindful to consider what you want to achieve from networking events. Is it to establish a future partnership? Do you want increased business? What about just wanting to increase your network? Keep whatever your goal is at the front of your mind as this will guide you as you connect with other leaders.
6. Follow up.
When I started my entrepreneurial journey several years ago, I never had the color of connection, a surname that opened doors nor was I from a section of society that automatically gave me a seat at the table. What I relied on heavily was networking events to get the word out about my business. One of the things I would do without fail was to send follow-up emails to every person I met. On numerous occasions, the feedback I would receive was that of shock and awe. They were always pleasantly surprised, which left me front and center in their minds.
7. A final note given the times: Explore handshake alternatives.
It has been a culturally accepted norm in the West for leaders to shake hands when they meet at business events. The current times dictate the need for alternatives to this long-standing practice. Some safer greetings to consider are a footshake, fist bump, wave, nod or elbow touch. The aim is to acknowledge others without compromising health and safety.
What is your strategy for networking? Share it with us on Twitter at @TheEntrepYou.