It’s fair to say that 2020 has taken us all by surprise – and not in a good way.

The pandemic has changed our everyday lives for the foreseeable future – and it’s changed our working lives too. This includes everything from the products or services we provide, how we deliver them operationally and how we market them. Which leads us nicely into virtual networking.

We’ve all had a very steep learning curve. And as the months pass, virtual networking has become much less of a novely, and more of an everyday reality. And because things aren’t going to change quickly (if ever!), there are key learnings for those of us who take business networking seriously.

Here are our top tips for successful virtual networking:

Business is Business

You may be sitting in your kitchen, home study or bedroom, but that doesn’t mean that this is an important meeting. Those you are meeting with are giving you their time and attention. Show them respect by dressing appropriately, just as if you were meeting them in person. Remember that first impressions still count!

Don’t be late

An absolute no-no. You no longer have traffic jams, late trains and slow tractors to offer as the reason for being late for a meeting. Have your device set up and ready in good time and log in at the meeting start time – it will only reflect poorly on you if you are late.

Pay attention

Do you find yourself becoming annoyed when you’re in a meeting and other attendees are playing on their phone, checking emails or posting updates to social media? Of course you do. You’ve given your time, effort and money to attend a meeting and you expect their full attention.

Virtual networking is no different – don’t forget that all attendees can each other and if you’re not paying attention, the group will know. You can’t expect their attention if you don’t give yours.

Use good lighting

Make sure that you are in a well-lit room and that your face can easily be seen so that a relationship can be built and maintained. Don’t worry that your room is a mess and you don’t have time to clear up, Microsoft Teams will allow you to blur your background and Zoom offers a range of virtual backgrounds – nobody will be the wiser! Ideally, a clear space is best to avoid any distraction.

Set goals

Know beforehand what it is that you’d like to achieve from the networking session your attending. You may be looking to promote a product or event, make a specific connection, find a supplier, garner support from local businesses, share a particular experience and ask for peer support or begin to generate local business awareness. There are so many reasons to network. What’s yours?

Jigsaw Business Women meets at 11am on the first Wednesday of every month. Meetings are currently all free via Zoom and bookings can be made via our Eventbrite page.

POST BLOG NOTE: In February 2022 we returned to face-to-face meetings at our usual time of 12.30pm.