Now that the conference glam life is on hold, it is harder to build authentic genuine connections and expand your network. The best networking is usually paired with alcohol and music, and in crowded rooms––a concept that’s now a mortifyng taboo for most of the world.
And let’s be honest, those times were amazing. All of us conference junkies where somewhat addicted to this jet-setting lifestyle, waiting for the next fix and the next group of “friends” whose friendship expired within 24 hours after the conference was over. Zoom drinks won’t ever come close to the real thing, much like virtual sex won’t fully satisfy your appetite to exchange bodily fluids with another human being.
So what can you do? You can use this quiet time to level up your networking game, for when the events industry resumes to normal, or even when it comes to online events.
The goal of networking is to establish mutually beneficial genuine connections with people.
Here are four easy ways to do this:
Nurture your existing connections
Catch up with those connections you might have let go. Pull all those business cards out from your dusty drawer and start reaching out to the people who can add value to your network. The basic principle here is to drop your agenda. No pitching! Reach out to say hello, remind people where you met, and ask them how they’ve been. Suggest jumping on a quick call and when you do, focus on what you can give, rather than on what you can sell them.
Work on your personal brand and online presence
Now that you aren’t travelling between continents to attend or speak at conferences, you are also less distracted. Use this focus to work on your personal brand. Invest in a better headshot done by a professional photographer. Create more and better content, grow your social media accounts. Got videos where you speak on stage? Make a reel to promote yourself as a speaker. If you don't have the skills to do this, there are plenty of video editors out there that need work. And they don't cost a fortune. All of this will give you a head start when conferences come back to what they were.
Join a private member’s club in your town (or request a day pass)
A visit to a private member’s club will bring back some good memories of what conferences used to be. Fine food, selected crowd, business vibes. You have probably saved a significant amount of money by not travelling the world to go to events. Invest this amount in the right membership. Most private member’s clubs also hold online events or networking sessions. Getting in can be challenging and you might need to find people who can refer you. Alternatively, you can see which clubs in your area offer day tours or can give you a free day pass to experience the place.
Go on a retreat that gathers professionals within your niche
It takes some time to appreciate the quality of retreats that people in the conference world organise. This is where a weekend can cost you some’s monthly salary (or your monthly salary), but if you pick the right ones, it will pay off in high-level connections and a quality experience you will remember for years to come. In my view as a hardcore budget traveller, those retreats are worth it. Even if you can only afford one or two per year.
SummitSummit is one such retreat that gathers a quality group of VCs and entrepreneurs. Their 2020 Iceland retreat got cancelled due to Covid and they are currently working on rescheduling it for 2021. They also organise regular retreats in Greece.
Virtual Open House at the Conduit 2020 - 27 October 2020 - The Virtual Open House is the ideal opportunity to learn more about how the Conduit is bringing together knowledge, capital and ideas for tangible and sustained positive impact.
Ad World - 2-4 November 2020 - Ad World is one of the largest online events for digital marketers in the world. For three days, Ad World will stream 15+ Digital Advertising Tracks, consisting of hyper-focused speeches, workshops and live Q&A sessions to help take your business to the next level.
SummitSummit - 25-26 March 2021 (tbd) - Our mission is simple: Connect world-class innovators and investors from Europe, Asia, and the US to create a long-lasting community. Out Of Office is the new way to network, raise funds, and build connections.