Businesses have a reason to smile following the return of face-to-face business networking events. Today, unlike the time when the pandemic began, events are slowly becoming possible again after more than a year of internet networking. Nonetheless, is face to face networking amidst COVID-19 the same? Should you alter your networking strategy?
Whether you’re a lone trader or an employer, networking is an important part of starting and expanding a business. It’s all about promoting your company, meeting possible collaborators and strategic partners, identifying new market opportunities, and learning from others in the industry. As such, it’s logical to say that networking is a vital part of business success.
Before COVID-19, networking was typically defined by face-to-face networking meetings. Though meetings took place in different places, times and had different structures, it was barely an online affair.
Then COVID-19 came and redefined everything.
Networking permeated further past the standard networking style; it primarily shifted online. People reacted to this in different ways. Many people appreciated how easy it was to try various groups, meet new people, and travel further afield.
Others missed the face-to-face interaction. For the majority, however, online networking was difficult if not impossible, specifically because of limited home office spaces and shortcomings of online meetings.
An Opportunity to Review Your Networking
That said, if you’re thinking about going back to face-to-face networking, think about how you can make it work better and smarter for you. BNI Surrey are an excellent choice if you’re considering business networking opportunities. To the benefit of all, networking is now returning to face-to-face encounters. Though it’s simple to revert to the “traditional” manner of networking, it’s rather better to view this as a clean slate. A chance to stop doing what we’ve always done, review, and change as needed.
What Hasn’t Changed…
Before we get into what’s new, it’s important to note that the principles of effective business networking haven’t changed:
• Choose Your Networking Event Wisely
In your working week, you have a limited amount of time. And every minute you spend in a networking meeting is a minute you’re not doing something else, so pick wisely. Are the other participants similar to you in terms of size, type, or outlook? Is there anyone in the group who could be a good collaborator and strategic partner? Will the meeting format be effective in growing your business?
Make sure you know how you’ll evaluate the networking event’s success. Is it introductions, leads, conversions, or sales that you’re after? Whatever it is, keep track of it and see if it is reaching your objectives.
Make a list of what you want to get out of each meeting. Is there someone you’d like to meet or an introduction you’d like to arrange? What would you like to say about your company? So, what exactly are you looking for? Before you go, have a look at the attendee list and figure out who you want to chat to.
Networking success continues beyond the meeting. Conversations and introductions should be followed up after the event. Stay in touch with someone on your target list if you didn’t get to meet them at the event. This will be vital for your events to be fruitful.
What has changed…
In a nutshell, everything.
The way we behave, relate, the business model, marketing, name it! Whatever your circumstance, it’s critical to recognize and respond to what may have changed for others. Here is the top change:
• Social Anxiety
There is someone who is frightened of face-to-face and group gatherings for every person who welcomes the opportunity to return to ‘normalcy.’ Regardless of the cause of their fear, it will affect how they interact, so be aware of responses that differ from your own.
If you’re nervous about face-to-face meetings, do whatever you can to alleviate your fears. Tell people if you don’t want to shake hands. Wear a face mask if it makes you feel more at ease. Lastly, don’t think that everyone is as pleased to shake hands and not wear a mask as you are if this is your stand.
The silver lining is that extraordinary circumstances provide a chance to come up with extraordinary solutions. As such, this is an opportunity to pause, reflect, review, and reform. Shrewd entrepreneurs have drastically changed how and what they do in their businesses, while others have returned to their old habits. Choose how to adapt and emerge stronger than before!