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Four tips to improve your networking skills during COVID
The pandemic and the new remote experience has drastically changed the way in which professionals now network and connect. The small talks over steaming cups of coffee or the deals closed after taking your client down the path of unlimited wine are over. Professionals now face new challenges when it comes to keeping up with the usual follow ups with their clients. For this purpose, we wanted to give you four tips that will hopefully maintain and enhance your networking capabilities.Share the article
1. PRACTICE HUMAN KINDNESS
We are evolving into an increasingly demoralized society, resulting from the general worry of the global pandemic, as well as of the loss of jobs and loved ones by many of us. Such is that in a KFF Tracking Poll conducted in mid-July, 53% of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus.
We should all therefore be thoughtful of the potential that our counterpart belongs to that 53%. As David Ginchansky, a career coach at Korn Ferry says, better to drop the usual greetings of hoping your counterpart is doing great, as there is a high chance it may not be the case. A good approach could be to start with, “I’m reaching out hoping that you’re happy and healthy, and sending good thoughts your way” or “How are you holding up?” and share something about your own status during the crisis.
2. ADAPT TO THE NEW NORMAL
The days of meeting potential clients for coffee or a beer after work to discuss business or potential collaborations are gone (at least temporarily). As dehumanized as making the switch to videoconferences may seem to some of us, it’s either adapt or die.
Don’t feel discouraged to drop your (remote) face-to-face monthly update with your colleague or client. Don’t downgrade to a cold phone call or email either. People still appreciate being able to study other people’s emotions, body language, when engaging in conversation. Plus, if it’s about winning a deal rather than giving the usual market update, face-to-face requests can be 34 times more likely to garner positive responses than emails (as explained by Harvard Business Review).
3. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF AN EXPANDING E-LEARNING UNIVERSE
Another usual source of networking tended to be forums and events organized by professional associations and groups of experts from a particular sector. These forums tended to also be a source of learning about the new changes and market updates.
However, these footfall-led events have found their way through COVID by offering the digital experience which, for a few, may be even come in handier.
Hence, as we find ourselves with an extra cut of time, initially spent on social activities or leisure, why not spend it on digital learning forums or conferences? It may be counterintuitive for some the idea of networking in such events where attendees are kept muted as mere listeners. Nonetheless, these tend to always offer the total list of attendees, sponsoring some time key voices, so make sure to keep an eye out.
Why not then shoot a follow up email to those you may be interested in to discuss any new learnings or exchange ideas?
4. MAKE THE DIFFERENCE. BE REMEMBERED
So here’s the key to what will make the difference between an exchange that will eventually fade away, or a long-term professional relationship. As we may no longer rely on our charisma, our body language or our overall appearance to captivate the other side, we need to find a way to ensure we are kept at the top of the mind and at the top of their list of contacts.
First of all, ensure that you have something relevant to bring to the table. Nothing can beat the feeling of despair after thinking you have had your time wasted on a meaningless and empty conversation. Whether it’s a personal anecdote that may be of interest, professional knowledge or shared connections, make sure you don’t come empty handed.
Secondly, we all know that business cards have vanished and become outdate. Yet, they always sort of symbolized a new connection and gave you a bigger chance of being remembered by your counterpart. Nowadays, this can be substituted by the use of digital business cards. For sure your LinkedIn is a great way of showcasing your long and varied professional experience but your client likely isn’t interested in learning about which High School you attended. Your objective is for them to keep your email and contact details, not your CV (unless you want them to extend you a job offer).
Stay ahead of the game and ensure you are kept at the top of everyone’s contact list by using digital business cards.