I often hear expressions from founders such as "networking is hard", "it's not for me", and plenty of other negative phrases. Do you know what? I totally agree; it can be very challenging.
And it's even harder when you've never seen a person in your life. You need to get their attention online, and, of course, you have nobody to introduce you. Despite all the mentioned reasons, everything always depends on your expectations and perception.
Networking is a relationship tool. It allows you to highlight your value proposition and stand apart from the competition in a way you design. At the moment, we are in a crisis that gives us no other way to connect other than online. We've had some time to adjust, and the world definitely did not stop, so how can we meet relevant people online?
BRAND IS YOUR PRIORITY
First things first, you have to acknowledge that brand is your priority, and it will help you to acquire the relevant network.
Today, it's more essential to build a strong and compelling personal brand online than ever before. As a result, this brand will help you increase the influence and network you are seeking, AND learn more about yourself as a company. So make sure you answer and find the ways to communicate:
- What is your value proposition?
- Who is your target audience?
- What are your goals?
Working on your personal brand will help you to identify:
- What you stand for
- What you believe
- How you offer value
THERE IS MORE THAN A BRAND
Even though the brand is a significant element of an efficient networking strategy, it's not everything. After you establish your online personal brand, there are many other factors to take into consideration while developing your online network.
Start by investing time and sharing your knowledge. Continue the usage of proper communication channels, and finding time to react to relevant content and activities online.
NETWORKING IS NOT A ONE TIME TOOL.
Networking is what we preach. I've seen many cases where ambitious and high aiming entrepreneurs are seeking to connect only for the momentum.
That’s not how it works. Act what you preach!
Understand that there is no shortcut in this situation and don’t think of networking as one time tool. Invest your time and also be a resource.
Focus on making a relationship, learning from each other.
And remember, it's not just about what I can do for you or what kind of help you can offer to me. It has to be reciprocal.
THE ART OF GIVING BACK
It’s a golden rule. Everything in life goes both ways and always comes back.
Some food for thought: do you have any unanswered LinkedIn messages or emails asking for advice or guidance? Act the way you would like to be treated yourself.
STAY IN TOUCH WITH YOUR NETWORK
This part is extremely important! Sometimes we are so focused on making new connections that we forget about the old ones.
Remember my fundamental message - networking is a mutual relationship.
Take the time to check in with your network. Maybe there's someone in your past that asked a favor from you? An intro? Your advice? If you provided some, follow up and see how things are going. Likewise, if someone has done you a favor, take the time to revisit the topic and show them the results.
It can be something as simple as a short message, but something that shows you're genuinely interested in, and fostering a mutual relationship.
ONLINE EVENTS: 3 TIPS ON HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT ONES:
- FOCUS: Do not try to go to every event. Pick the ones that best fit your interest and the company's direction. Quality matters much more than quantity. In this case, time allocation is very significant.
- DO YOUR RESEARCH: Determine who is the main audience of an event. Look for the events that would support your direction. If you are looking for investment, an event focused on fundraising would be the right choice. If you are looking for investors, you will definitely not join a fashion event. It's always possible to do quick research on industry events before attending and choose the most relevant event option.
- Consider the infrastructure: how likely is that you will have a chance to meet people? Does this event have a matchmaking app? Open networking session? Or maybe some promising sessions with audience interaction? Look for online events where you have an opportunity to engage and interact.
Wrapping up Networking in a Digital Age:
- Develop and continually improve your brand and story
- Remember that networking is not a one time tool
- Stay in touch with your network
Good luck & thank you for reading!
With best wishes,
Ready to alter your Networking skills? There are some great online events happening soon:
1. Marketing and PR Growth Week by Baltic Sandbox - October 26-30
A Growth Week to introduce the greatest Marketing and PR methodologies, connect promising startups and active mentors, to combine the efforts in front of 2020 challenges.
2. Startup Touch - October 29-30
Remote conference connecting startups from Central, South-East Europe & Central Asia - with global investors, accelerators, and enterprises.
3. Alter State - November 19
Nordic-Baltic Women Innovation Sprint, open for everyone who has an impact related idea and is looking for tools, network and mentorship to develop and launch it.