As we approach five months of limited public gatherings due to the global pandemic, the meaning of ‘meeting new people’ has changed. Gone are the days of shaking hands, greeting someone has become a virtual exchange with an enthusiastic wave hello and goodbye.
Even though in-person professional events may not be taking place for some time, there are still lots of opportunities taking place. Despite first impressions, our new digital environment has opened fantastic new opportunities to meet and engage with others from all over the world. Creating that great first impression is just as important online as it is offline, so we’ve put together a list of our top tips on building your network, right from the comfort of your own home.
Find your event
There are lots of platforms advertising online events and most are free to sign up to. mycareer is a great place to start to find out about any opportunities taking place through the academic year. Eventbrite advertise a broad range of events hosted from all corners of the globe. If you’re interested in entrepreneurship, subscribe to the University of Bristol Basecamp Enterprise Team newsletter mailing list, incubators and start-up communities like SETSquared, TechSPARK to receive their newsletters.
Don’t just ‘turn up’
‘Working the room’ has a different meaning when you’re sat at your kitchen table. The format of online networking differs, but it’s easy to appear online whilst being unengaged and keeping your camera off using the time to answer emails. Ensure you’re making the most of these opportunities by engaging in conversation and set yourself some goals, for example; coming away with three new connections, or a couple of takeaways on an industry you previously knew nothing about.
Capture the grid
Dependent on the networking platform, it might be a good idea to screenshot the grid to capture the names and faces of other attendees. It’s a great way to remember names so you’re able to follow up with them afterwards and put a name to a face.
Use the chat
During guest speakers, panels and fireside chats, you may be asked to use the chat function. Use this to spark conversation, provide more background on yourself and ask questions without interrupting the speaker. Dependent on the platform you should be able to save the chat to look through afterwards to check whether there is anything you might have missed.
Keep the conversation going
Don’t forget to follow up and connect with new leads via LinkedIn. Although you may not have specific needs or questions for a new connection at that time, it’s good to keep a directory of connections you can reach out to in the future. Remember- people are more likely to respond if you leave a note with your LinkedIn invitation!
And finally, don’t forget to unmute!