Face to face business networking events have started to become possible after over a year of online networking. Has anything changed? Do you need to change your networking approach?
One of the most important tools to use when establishing and growing a business is business networking, whether you are an employer or a sole trader. This helps the business get known, meet strategic partners, potential collaborators, learning from others in business, and finding new routes to market.
Before COVID, the standard was face to face networking meetings. The place, time and meeting structure varied, but meeting online was unusual.
Then the pandemic changed everything.
Online networking was the only way people could network, and people reacted to it in different ways. There are those who enjoyed how easy it was to try different groups and meet people. Some missed the face to face interaction because of its personal touch. The limitations of home office space and broadband made things harder, even impossible sometimes.
A chance to review your networking
Networking has started to revert to physical meetings like it used to be before. But over the last 18 months, we have had the opportunity to stop doing what we’ve always done, review, then adapt when needed.
If you get back to face to face networking, then it is good to stop and consider if you can make it work smarter and harder for you. If you are looking for online business networking and are based in Surrey then see “online business networking Surrey“.
What has stayed the same?
Before looking at what has changed, it is important to remember that the fundamentals of a successful business network have not changed;
– Being selective. Everyone has a limited amount of time on their working week. The time you spend on networking meetings could be spent on doing something else, that’s why you need to choose carefully. Are the other attendees similar to you in terms of type, scale, and outlook? Does the group have strategic partners or useful collaborators? Is the meeting format good for you?
– Measure. You should have a way of measuring the success of your networking. Is it leads, introductions, sales, conversions? Whatever the metric is, make sure you know so you can track and see if you are making progress.
– Plan. You should know what you want to get out of each meeting. Is there someone you would like to meet or be introduced to? What are you going to say about the business? What are you looking for? Go through the attendee list before doing and identifying the people you are interested in talking with.
– Follow up. Success is more than just the initial meeting. Make sure you have followed up with the introductions. If you don’t get the chance of meeting someone you wanted to meet, consider making contact after the event.
What has changed?
Everything has changed.
The situation has provided the chance to stop, think, change, and review. There are those who have been forced to alter and change how they do business, while some have gone back to their old ways.
Whatever the case, make sure you have recognized what might have changed for others so you can respond accordingly.
– Social anxiety. When people come to the reality that they have to go back to how things were before, there are those who are going to be apprehensive about group events and face to face meetings. Regardless of the cause of their anxiety, it is going to impact their interaction and you should understand that their response might be different from yours. If you feel anxious about face-to-face meetings, then look for ways of minimizing your concerns. If you feel anxious about shaking hands, then let people know. If you feel comfortable with a mask, put it on. If you are okay with shaking hands and not wearing a mask, don’t assume that everyone is.