Guest Blogger Neena Hogle is the 2021 President for Women in Leadership, she is also an inspirational speaker and owner of Fearless Networking.
Grabbing coffee or lunch with a friend or colleague probably isn’t going to happen anytime soon, at least not in person. But social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t network. In fact, you may find even more ways to connect and network with your circles.
Due to modern technology, meeting in-person isn’t required to develop new relationships or deepen existing ones. So, although we’re all practicing some form of social distancing for the moment, here’s how to maintain and grow your network while social distancing:
EXPAND YOUR NETWORK
Be intentional about reaching out to different people and groups of people. A lot of us have big holes in our schedules because of cancelled plans, In the past, many of us struggled to make time to network - now is a great time to reach out and get a response. How do you find these people without leaving the house?
- Identify people you would like to connect with on LinkedIn.
- Utilize professional organizations and association websites, i.e. Chambers of Commerce, Women in Leadership, Rotary, etc.
- Go through your collection of business cards. Organize and follow-up with connections from your current collection of business cards.
- Take advantage of one-on-one networking opportunities – global quarantine has had unexpected benefit - a surging interest in one-on-one mentorship and networking.
- Carve out time to stay connected. Online relationships require nurturing just as much as (if not more than) those in the real world.
- Consider mentoring - many successful people attribute their success to having had a great mentor and you can grow exponentially by being a mentor, as well? Serving as a mentor can develop your communication skills, allow you to gain a new perspective, give back and expand your network.
- ASK how you can help! Be up-front and authentic and offer something like ‘since I can’t support you financially right now, how can I help?’
- Write recommendations and testimonials – share them on contacts LinkedIn and Facebook Business Pages – and be sure to email a copy contacts can utilize for their website, or however they want.
- Last but not least leverage social media by Following, Liking and Sharing posts to help contacts grow their online presence. Many small businesses and entrepreneurs rely on social media marketing and it’s hard to get content in front of people without paying for advertising.
FOCUS ON LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP BUILDING
Don’t focus on sales, focus on the relationship. Reaching out with, ‘Business is really slow right now, do you have any leads?’ is not only transactional and opportunistic, it’s inept, we all know businesses are suffering. We don’t know how long the crisis will last; and we’re all adjusting to new restrictions, and this is not the time to be aggressively prospecting with people. What’s the best way to build relationships during the age of social-distancing?
GIVE WITHOUT KEEPING SCORE
How can you give back? We’ve seen a lot about supporting local businesses and restaurants #TakeOutTuesday, which is wonderful, but if you’re one of the many people that still aren’t working, and aren’t getting unemployment – you might be struggling to pay bills – and purchase-support may not be an option for you. So how can you give back?