Your network is your net worth. If you’re the smartest person in the room, find a new room. Networking works. Don’t forget your elevator pitch. Pitch, pitch, pitch.
Just some of the advice I was given as I embarked on my first business networking sessions when I was entering the world of self-employment. The rooms I went in were stale, badly lit, full of the old boys club and not really a nice place to be! So I did what I enjoy doing most – I set up my own session!
The Power Hour Network in Sheffield built into one of the mainstays of the Sheffield business networking scene and it helped many many businesses step out of their home office, deskspace and workplace and mingle in a real world setting with other businesses in their region to help collaborate, learn skills and build their business.
Things changed somewhat, didn’t they? By the end of March 2020 we were plunged into nationwide lockdown, and as a result, as I write this now in August of the same year, physical meetings and networking events still cannot happen with any scale or frequency.
I’ve attended several online networking meetings since the emerging demand for them as a concept and I have mixed feedback of them in terms of their success, their structure and the purpose.
How to approach online networking.
If your buyer has stopped buying, then it’s time to stop selling. Yes, the urge to ‘sell’ may be what you feel natural doing, especially if you have had some time away from the networking scene. As the snippet from our sales training webinar suggests, our approach to online networking has adapted to the environment in which we find ourselves.
Log on. Pitch. Leave.
I’ve been on several networking sessions that simply become pitch fests. You know the ones, you’ll think of some people right now in your networks that just turn up, pitch, and leave.
This wild way of doing networking just doesn’t work. Why, when we have evolved into digital talking head versions of ourselves, do we assume we have the same presence, the same engagement and the same impetus as when we are in the live setting (which by the way, you shouldn’t be hard pitching here either!). There is little worse for me in an online networking session to listen to the pitch of a business owner I already know for them to then visibly disengage in what every other person in the room is saying.
Add value to the group. We are all here to help each other – or at least we should be.
Networking should be a part of your sales plan and business strategy.
Networking needs to be part of a plan; your sales plan!
When your buyers and your market are predominantly online or your market are still not back to work, or the buying journey or decision-maker has changed, so too must your networking plan that supports your evolved business strategy.
Do you just turn up to any old room thinking that networking for networking’s sake is the way to build your business and fill your sales pipeline? Or do you take deliberate steps to show up with the right kind of people in the right kind of space?
Why are you attending that online networking session anyway?
This goes for the live setting along with the online space but the nuances of each are different. For me, online networking is different than the physical world of business networking events. It is different in format, different in engagement and different in purpose. Therefore we must be slightly different too.
What are you doing currently? Are you attending just for the sake of attending? To keep busy?
What is your next step following the networking session and what is the outcome you can realistically expect if your market isn’t yet buying?
Check out our free sales training webinar all about adapting to online networking.
Our suite of sales training webinars are free to access and discuss topics supporting the modern business and their sales environment. Our adapting to online networking webinar is a fantastic overview to our thought process and application of online networking to help build networks and sales.