By Gail Stolzenburg
Everything changes in a crisis.
Communities like Houston have experienced hurricanes, flooding, pandemics, and economic downturns affecting the ability to be face to face with prospective clients. Your conferences and networking events been cancelled and people have to work from home. You may be experiencing the fear of making a change, which is totally normal. Remember fear and faith are unable to coexist in your mind. New rules are in place like social distancing and people are resorting to Virtual Networking.
There’s little difference between physical and virtual networking. Connecting specialist Jonathan Sprinkles says “Connection is the foundation of every long lasting profitable business relationship” and both methods work very well. Most of communication is through body language and by using the phone or email we are unable to see the person’s body language. But, now there are tools where you can see someone’s facial expressions and at least some body language. Think PIVOT and look at networking from a different prospective.
International Sales Trainer Eric Lofholm says “The big thing with virtual networking is your own mindset and expanding your comfort zones. You may be used to always networking in person. It is comfortable for you. So networking in a virtual format is a new muscle to develop. It comes down to trust and rapport, identifying customer needs, and sharing benefits and getting appointments. Think about mindset as a strategy. Start by writing down every day what you are grateful for and write down your plan on how to have a productive day.
Sincerely caring and wanting to help others will increase your influence. Find an excuse to follow up with someone you’ve lost touch with. Spend more time connecting with people online. Follow up with those you have presented to before. Build relationships with those who are forced to work from home. Post content that helps others. Be different – Stay positive. The #1 skill in networking is consistency.
You accomplish the most work the day before your vacation because you focus. You can use the same technique in connecting. Top networking trainer Simon Chan calls it “artificial time”. He teaches to set a timer for five minutes and makes as many new contacts as you can. The next five minutes provide information to your contacts and the third five minutes follow up on previous contacts. This 15- minute exercise can be repeated throughout the day.
Having to maintain social distance is an excellent opportunity to develop a mastermind with people who have backgrounds and viewpoints different from yours. You will help each other. It is also a time to find a mentor – someone who is doing what you want to do, who began at a point lower than you are, and became very successful. Associate with new and different people. Remember your income is the average of the five people you associate with the most.
This is the perfect time to update your networking tools like social media platforms and learn more about virtual connecting technology. The best thing you can do right now is to produce, make a contribution. Become the best version of yourself and get comfortable networking virtually. The technology makes no difference. Do your research, pull the trigger and go. If you are thinking about changing careers, this is a great time to contact professionals in your area of interest.
“Networking remotely isn’t difficult at all,” notes Rosina Racioppi, CEO of Women Unlimited, and author of a book about networking called Relationships Matter, “The only obstacle to building a great network virtually is that so many people working at home, especially for the first time, forget to do it.” Let’s network!