Fall into networking in a virtual world

By Sue Voyles / November 25, 2020 / , ,

Fall is a great time to connect and reconnect, especially with those we may have lost touch with over the summer. In a normal year we might find ourselves talking with friends and colleagues we haven’t seen for many weeks due to vacations, summer travel or business slowdowns.

Thinking about our networking challenges this year has me also thinking about fall and how important it is to harvest our connections through regular contact. So, here’s a little FALL acronym that might remind everyone of the value of staying connected.

F – Face to Face First.

Strive for in-person contact. Tough right now, I know, but get creative in ways to meet in person, socially distancing, perhaps outside – if the weather cooperates. Meeting people eye-to-eye is always the ideal. But if not prepare for alternatives.

A – Allow for Alternatives.

Now is the season of finding alternative ways to talk with clients, potential customers and all of our networking connections. There’s always the phone, but if you want to “see” someone, use the numerous video/digital online link services like Zoom, Facetime or Skype.

L – Limit your Language.

Yes, that’s right, clearly we are dying to talk with one another, to have and maintain social contact, and make a meaningful connection. Just as important, though, is to be aware of our role in the two-way dialog. Leave plenty of time to listen to others, to hear what they have to say, offer, explain, and share. That can be a challenge, but great listening skills are a must in building a network. Listening shows an authentic side, one built on empathy, and not an sales pitch. There will always be time for you to share, whether you started the connection or someone reached out to you.

L – Leave with a Link.

By the time you are about done reconnecting (or making a new connection), you should always be prepared for a follow-up. (Whether it’s needed or not, you will have to decide.) Planning to reconnect, even if not for business, but just to check in on how our connections are doing is well worth the time. Being prepared by concluding with a “what’s next” conversation often brings the conversation – and connection – full circle. You can gauge how the meeting went, consider how best to move forward and, of course, plan for how the two of you (or your teams) could possibly work together on a project.

No matter how you look back on this season of 2020, and the new normal caused by a pandemic, preparing, planning, listening and finding ways to connect or reconnect are all sound ways to make the best of time we are blessed to share with one another.