Embracing the virtual networking era

By Sue Voyles / January 20, 2023 / , ,

Learning new ways to sell and develop new strategic relationships in a virtual era has been a challengeNetworking in Michigan for many business owners and sales leaders. It has also changed the marketing world.

First and foremost, the whole idea of networking has been turned on its head.
No doubt you have heard it said in your own circles, “It’s difficult to get new business when you can’t meet people face to face.”

While pandemic conditions have changed, the onset of remote everything is still with us. Businesses struggle to bring back workers into the office, schools rely on remote classrooms, events are often virtual still or hybrid. Not everyone, it seems, is comfortable with returning to a face-to-face environment.

In fact, the world around us, whether at work or home, continues to evolve. There’s more and more time being spent isolated, looking at social media or online websites, games, resources or connections. There’s less time being together in person and we are often still dogged by worry and doubt when it comes building close relationships that require more than a nod, a social media “like” or a phone conversation.

What you can do to be successful in networking

So what can you do to manage and deal with this changing paradigm? Start with these:

  • Master the art of making phone calls.
  • Run great virtual meetings.
  • Send effective emails that include a call to action.
  • Reach out to your network to re-engage.
  • Ask current customers for a referral or introduction.
  • Use LinkedIn to prospect for new business.

Keeping in touch with current connections, while creating new ones, on LinkedIn is an invaluable endeavor for business development and relationship building. Things like automated marketing programs can be used to build business relationships. While it remains a remote connection, many find that it works.

When it comes to public relations and getting the word out about your company, your products or services, managing a robust social media program and developing a solid content marketing approach will help bridge the virtual gap. Of course it requires a commitment to the very virtual world that is challenging our ability to connect with one another and our customers. Clearly, though, there’s no turning back to a day when power lunches, in-person conferences and business networking meetings were the best way to meet people in person.

There are upsides to this, though, which changes the investment of dollars and time.

More dollars are being spent on platforms and software tools to keep us in touch than actually meeting for coffee or lunch, or spending time at a mixer event or conference. These more traditional approaches are still happening and worthwhile, so please don’t misunderstand. It’s just that they come at their own cost in terms of time commitment and financial resources and may present other challenges for scheduling or spreading yourself too thin.

So let’s look back to our list for a moment.

Effective use of your phone really isn’t new for most of us. Perhaps younger generations who love their phones but actually rarely use them for calling people may struggle in this area, but most seasoned business owners understand exactly the necessity for this component of their daily lives.

Email marketing through content creation is another excellent way to engage in a form of marketing that is direct to your audience.

Using Zoom meetings, seeking referrals and introductions from current customers, and prospecting on platforms like LinkedIn are no longer new and scary. They combine the ideals of virtual connecting and meeting people in person or in some other direct form. Mastering these methods will change your connection landscape for sure, but it isn’t anything that prevents direct engagement.

Ultimately, we need to embrace change. Keep a hold on things that have worked, but always be prepared to try new approaches.