Virtual networking is when you use technology, such as Zoom or Skype, to connect with entrepreneurs from around the world. You don’t have to leave your house or office to participate, and when leveraged properly, virtual networking can be an amazing referral source for your business.
And while there are similarities with in-person networking, virtual networking has its own nuances. Once you understand these nuances, you can maximize virtual networking to build your business.
In this week’s marketing strategy, I will break down how to use virtual networking to increase your visibility, gain referral partners, and attract new clients. If you are a work-from-home entrepreneur, this is the blog post for you!
If you have a business where you can help clients no matter where they live, then you may want to check out virtual networking. Virtual networking is a new way to network, but it can be as or more effective than in-person networking if you have the right approach and attitude. In fact, if you own a virtual business, virtual networking could become the number one way you attract clients.
Another perk of virtual networking is this: It can save you time and money. Here’s what I mean:
- You won’t have to drive to and from the networking meeting, which will save you time
- And because there’s no driving, there are no fuel costs
- You won’t have to pay for expensive breakfasts or lunches
- And because you’re sitting in front of a webcam, you can wear your pajama bottoms and slippers (a total time saver, right?)
How Virtual Networking works
Every group has its own way of operating, of course, but here are some general things you can expect from virtual networking.
You will connect to the group using your webcam and microphone. The facilitator of the virtual networking group will probably use Zoom or similar technology to hold the meeting. You will have an opportunity to give an elevator speech, and depending on the group, you may have a chance to be the speaker for a weekly meeting.
How to find Virtual Networking groups
Virtual networking is not as established as in-person networking, but I think it will catch on as more virtual-based entrepreneurs learn about it. For now, try googling “virtual networking” to see what results you find. Be sure to ask other work-from-home entrepreneurs about it too. They may have a group you can connect with.
Side note: I am the area developer for Virtual Networkers with the Keep It Local, LLC organization. We have two virtual networking groups (with more to come). You are welcome to see if either group is the right fit for you. At the time of this publication, Virtual Networkers – East meets every Friday at 8am EST and Virtual Networkers – West meets every Monday at 3pm EST. Come check us out!
How to maximize Virtual Networking
Being active is essential to virtual networking success. Here are my tips for maximizing the power of virtual networking:
- Show up for every meeting.
- Set up coffee dates with every member and guest (you can do virtual coffee dates using Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or just the telephone).
- Check out the member directory (if they have one) and ask other members to connect with you.
- Participate in the Facebook Groups affiliated with the networking group.
- Use all aspects of your membership. For example, if the group allows you submit a blog post, then submit a blog post. If they let you use their events calendar, then submit your events.
- Follow all members and guests on their social media accounts – and be sure to interact with them there.
- Participate in the members’ webinars and Facebook Lives, and jump on their e-newsletter list. Think about how you can continue to connect with them virtually – beyond the meeting.
I have found that connections made through Virtual Networking happen more quickly than in-person networking – probably because the members are accustomed to virtual connections and trust people they haven’t met in person.
However, for this to occur, you have to take advantage of building these relationships through all online means. Think of it as connecting from all angles – the meeting, the Facebook Group, through email, doing Virtual Coffee dates, and more.
Let me put this another way: If you want to maximize virtual networking – and do so quickly – you must leverage every aspect of the group and find ways to connect online in between meetings. If you do both, you will reap the benefits of networking online.
Virtual networking is not for everyone, but if you are comfortable with building online friendships and being on a webcam, then I think you should give virtual networking a try. You will meet wonderful people outside of your locale – all who want to help you grow your business (as you help them grow theirs). And with the right group, virtual networking can be tons of fun.