Online Networking: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies from our Community

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There is an art to effective networking and this remains true when you are connecting with people online. As many of us move into virtual spaces for events (like our Pepperlane Boosts) and community, knowing how to have a productive online experience is critical. 

For some of us, connecting online is nothing new, while for others this can feel rather uncomfortable. And for all of us, virtual community and online networking is a new reality that can open up exciting possibilities for your business.

If you are ready to maximize the time and energy you put into your next online Boost or other virtual networking experiences, then these tips, from our team and the Pepperlane community, will help you make it happen!

  1. Make sure you are set-up for an online experience - Even if you regularly use online networking systems, there are some key things to check before you join an upcoming Boost or community event:
    1. Download the software you’ll be using - We use Zoom for our Boosts, but you may have an event that uses another system. Make time to download the software beforehand so you can ensure it is all ready to go. 

      “I've done several group coaching sessions via Zoom. It works!” - Nancy Zare, Rapport Builderz

    2. Check your microphone - This is especially important in Boosts and other events that require you to participate. If you don’t have a microphone, make sure you are set up to call-in on your phone so you can join the conversation.
    3. Consider getting a direct connection to your WiFi modem - Unfortunately, video conferencing systems can really tax your wireless network. Having a direct line will ensure the best connection. You may need to order a wire or a special adapter, so be sure you look into this in advance!

  2. Identify the right space to take your call - It’s important that you find a space that will allow you to have a quiet environment so you can hear what others say, respond with feedback, and share your own challenges. You should try to find a space that is quiet, comfortable, and looks professional. (Don't forget to test what shows up in the background of your video!) Now, under normal circumstances this may be easily achieved, but the current situation is anything but normal. Try to be mindful of the tips as best you can, so you have a more focused call. And don't forget to be creative. One of our members repurposed a (barely) walk-in closet to be an office space, and it works!

  3. Listen first - We are all craving community right now. That's why we encourage you to come to your calls with some good open-ended questions you can ask others and make it a priority to listen to others. People will appreciate this, and it will help you learn more about the people you are connecting with. 

  4. Spend some time preparing for the call - This is really a recommendation anytime, but is especially valuable for online networking. Interacting online is not as easy and can feel intimidating, so having some things prepared for when it is your turn to share can really help. (Especially for any introverts out there who have trouble jumping in!) 

    “Think through your TOP challenge that you need to resolve in order to move your business forward. Decide how the group could be helpful and create a specific question to get actionable feedback. If you need help figuring out how to narrow in, reach out to us before your Boost!” - Diane Meehan, Director of Business Development at Pepperlane

  5. Think of a creative way to stay connected - Swapping business cards isn’t super easy online, so consider creating a virtual way to share your information with the people you are connecting with. You may want to create a business card using an app (like Haystack), or create a graphic that you can email out with your info, a bit about your business, and details on any special offers you have. Whatever you do, make sure you have a plan for staying connected. (And make sure you ask before adding people to your email list!)

    “I think authentic engagement on people's posts and comments online is the best way I've found to meet people and build relationships. You can then take the conversation offline and/or virtually have a coffee meeting via Zoom.” - Jessica Miller, Business and Life Coach

  6. Make time to reflect on the conversations you had - Did you get feedback that you need to process and consider? Or did someone mention something that you think you can potentially help with? Don’t forget to take some time to process and debrief from your networking event so you can keep the momentum going!

Whether you are an online networking pro or just getting started, we hope these tips will help you feel ready for your next event!

Our Boosts are now online! You can view our upcoming events here. And, we want to give you a free ticket! Use the promo code FREEAPRIL at checkout to join for free. 

Written by Team Pepperlane

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