Business Networking in the Age of COVID-19
Updated: Sep 2, 2020
For many entrepreneurs, founders, and driven professionals, business networking is a critical component of their growth strategy. And in our current national emergency, many of us are finding new ways to network and keep building our pipeline of referral sources.
So what’s working – and how will business networking change post-pandemic? Read on to learn from the experiences of four master networkers, across a range of industries.
Give Yourself Permission to Reach Out
Some of us may feel uncomfortable with reaching out to people during these extraordinary times, worrying that trying to drive commerce is in bad taste, or concerned about what else is going on in people’s lives. Sarah Reiff-Hekking, founder of True Focus Coaching, encourages everyone to reach out, especially during these times, but to be flexible when you do so.
True Focus Coaching empowers entrepreneurs and professionals to really understand how they spend their time, so they can gain the clarity and skills to get to the next level in their business and life. Because the work she does is so personal, Sarah spends quite a bit of time networking with professionals across a range of industries.
“I’ve actually been doing this for a long time – scheduling virtual connection calls. Instead of a cup of coffee, I’m scheduling a phone or video call. The most important thing is to give yourself permission to reach out. Know that even the introverts are tired of being alone, and as long as you give people a flexible way to connect with you, most are happy for the opportunity. I use a calendar system so people can choose the time that works best for them, and the medium – if they’ve got Zoom fatigue, I’m happy to do a call. If they want the face to face interaction, video is fine, too.
I’ve also leaned into giving more away. I am doing a Facebook live event on Sunday nights that people can show up to by appointment – or listen to after the fact. Right now, everybody’s load during the day is different. Providing flexibility is key.”
Learn more about Sarah and her work at True Focus Coaching at her website: https://www.truefocuscoaching.com
Focus on Training Your Team
Janice Weldon, a project engineer at Meridian Associates, reminds us that now is a great time to focus on your team’s skills, including virtual trainings that will improve the whole organization’s ability to nurture both current projects and your sales pipeline.
“At Meridian we are fortunate to have long-lasting client relationships that enable us to maintain a semblance of business as usual in these challenging times. We are continuing to network with our partners and clients virtually through phone and video calls to check-in and are looking at other ways to build and refine our lead generation and management pipelines. We have taken advantage of any downtime to reinvest in our employees via in-house project management forums and sales training sessions aimed at increasing collaboration/inter-office communication and strengthening the effectiveness of our teams."
Meridian Associates provides land development, land surveying, civil engineering, renewable energy, LiDAR scanning, and landscape architecture services to corporate, commercial, industrial, institutional, and public sector clients. Learn more at https://www.meridianassoc.com
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Be My Guest!
Lysa Miller, founder of Ladybugz Interactive, an award-winning agency, is also the founder of The MetroWest Women’s Network – she’s known throughout Greater Boston and Central Massachusetts as a professional networker, connector, and champion for other entrepreneurs. Her COVID-19 networking strategy involves good old fashioned PR, which has netted her guest spots contributing to blogs, webinars and podcasts to reach new audiences.
“As a professional networker, I have missed out on networking and generating referrals because I can't meet with people. If I had to Zoom with every one of these contacts, I would be overwhelmed and unproductive. So I’ve been nurturing and growing my network by guesting on webinars and podcasts. Not only do I forge a connection with the hosts, which is a plus because they usually have great contacts and followings, but also with listeners and attendees. I've also done some Zoom meetings, but when I do those I try to do them with a few people involved, not just myself, to make it a little more exciting and dynamic.
I've also been exploring online software such as Alignable to be able to network more easily, and have been checking out new ways to meet people. Hopefully, I will learn something new and continue to make great connections, even during this time and beyond.”
Embrace the Virtual and Change The Way You Do Business
Leo Rotman is a Certified Financial Planner and founder and principal of River Financial Group. For parents who are committed to securing their family’s financial future, his firm offers comprehensive special needs planning, driven by a thought-provoking, integrated process. Because his work is so personal and important, it has been driven by face-to-face interactions, but that is changing.
“My business is all about getting in front of people. Initially, the idea that this wasn’t going to be possible for a while created a massive amount of uncertainty about the future of my practice. For almost 20 years, I have been meeting face to face with clients/prospects and doing seminars. Now this has seemingly ended in blink. Fortunately, I started using technologies like Zoom about a year ago in a limited way. Now we are almost 3 months into quarantine and I have had hundreds of Zoom meeting and even half a dozen webinars. I’ve found it so efficient that I might never go back to doing business the old way.”
Learn more about Leo’s practice here: http://www.riverfg.com
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