Thanks to the pandemic, we are all using Zoom and online meeting platforms far more than we used to. There are many applications for online meetings that we’d never thought of until this year, and holding networking events online is one of them. While many of us prefer real-life networking, we have also seen the advantages of online networking – not having to travel makes networking more cost-effective, and we are also able to attend events that are outside our usual patch. You never know – even when the working world returns to normal, we might carry on networking online.

At Get Ahead VA, we have embraced online networking and seen great results across our business. Here are our top tips to get the most from Zoom networking:

1. Create the right impression

When you’re meeting people for the first time, making the right impression is important. You would probably dress smartly to attend an in-person event and online is no different. Plain colours work better on screen, but no one will know if you’re wearing your slippers!

On Zoom, your background is as important as what you wear. Make sure your background is appropriate – choose your room carefully or use a Zoom background. Some businesses have even created branded backgrounds for their employees to use when networking.

If you’re not the only person at home, consider going into a room where you can shut the door to minimise distractions.

Pets, children and cuckoo clocks can be delightful impromptu additions to online networking. However, you should carefully consider whether they make the right impression. Do you want to appear corporate and professional or is being a multi-tasking parent and animal-lover part of your brand?

2. Talk to camera

Eye contact is difficult on Zoom, because of where cameras are located on our devices. We recommend looking into the camera while talking, so that the others attending can engage with you while they are listening to your contribution.

Consider placing a big book under your laptop so your camera is at eyebrow height. It’s a more flattering view, and it will mean you don’t appear to look down when you’re addressing the group.

You can also change the position of the attendees on your screen. Use this to place the person who you’re speaking to under your camera so you can look into the camera and also at them.

3. Getting to know you

Online networking does away with the usual banter about the refreshments, whether you had a coffee before you left the house, whether you should treat yourself to a croissant or have some healthy fruit. But when we’re online, banter and ice breakers are more important than ever – it’s so easy to feel isolated, and it’s so much harder to cut in with a question without seeming rude. Fortunately, 2020 has presented us with some other ice breakers, like “where are you working from?” and “how are you coping with the pandemic?” Use them as conversation starters and you’re on the way to building quality working relationships.

4. Some things remain the same

Of course, all the other aspects of networking that apply in real life also apply on Zoom. At Get Ahead VA, we are great advocates of listening not advertising, and approaching networking with a generous spirit: “what can we offer you that would help you grow your business?” Just because you’re talking and everyone else in on mute, it doesn’t mean you should just broadcast.

The team at Get Ahead VA offer a variety of Zoom services, facilitating not just networking events but also conferences and training. To find out more, get in touch on 01483 332 220.

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