Networking with Zoom

Monday, March 8, 2021

If you asked anyone in 2019 to send you a Zoom link, you would have found a handful of people who knew what you were talking about. But now, in 2021, “do you want to Zoom?” is an everyday occurrence. We are all realizing that this is a technology that isn’t going anywhere and what used to be an in-person networking meeting is now a virtual networking meeting. So, how do we stand out, how do we network, and how do we make connections via technology? Below are 4 oh so simple, why didn’t I think of that, tips on standing out and making connections in your next Zoom meeting.

1. Do your research

Before starting Kesh Marketing, Kelli and I were corporate event planners who coordinated events from small board meetings to three-day summits with hundreds of attendees. Each one of our events, no matter the size, had something in common, a request for our attendees to network. A time when folks could pour a glass of wine and learn a bit about one another. Questions would start off professional, asking “what do you do?” and eventually you’re trading business cards because you’ve found out that your cousin’s best-friend’s nephew played on the same soccer team as their brother’s dentist’s son. That type of connection is so hard to create when at a virtual meeting. Yes, you can certainly pour yourself a glass of wine like you’re at a networking reception but we all know a Zoom conversation is not as easy as an in-person one. This is why I suggest asking for a participant list in advance of the meeting or, if you are hosing the event, make it a practice to send out the attendee list a couple of days in advance. This gives you a chance to do some research on your fellow attendees and start the meeting off with some knowledge in your back pocket. Sure, this might seem like you’re doing a bit of cyber-stalking but remember, we live in a cyber world now and there are new rules to this game. We have great platforms like LinkedIn that give you all of the information that you need to know. Title, company, tenure, and a few personal items. These bits of knowledge will help you as you navigate the awkward waters of a virtual meeting and will help you to make a connection once the meeting is wrapped up.

2. Your Zoom title is your new name badge

This might seem like I’m not really giving you a tip here but this simple concept can make a large impact. Before you sign onto the meeting, think about who you will be engaging with. If you are meeting with your team form work, obviously your first name is all that is needed. However, if you are meeting with a larger group where most people don’t know you, your first name is definitely not enough. At these larger events, use your full name and company just as if you were wearing a name badge. This will help your networking opportunities and your name recognition when it comes time to follow-up after the meeting.

3. Be prepared to say something about yourself

We’ve all been to the networking group where people go around the table, stand-up and give their 60 second elevator speech. Well, Zoom meetings, especially networking meetings will often start out the same way however, in a virtual setting your time is limited. Be prepared to share who you are in 10-15 seconds and don’t forget your social media handles! Just as important as your name, title, business, and webpage are your social pages. It is also important that all of your social handles match one another and are easy to find. This will also make it easier for attendees to find you and your business after the event.

4. Listen and take notes

I’m sure you’re thinking “are these really tips because this sounds like first grade.” Yes, I agree, it is crazy that listen and take notes is a hot tip but our attention span is shortening and Zoom fatigue is a real thing. Microsoft released a study in 2017 about the human attention span in which they found that in 2000 the human attention span was 12 seconds and by 2013 it had dropped to only 8 seconds. To put that into context, a goldfish has a 9 second attention span. So yes, listen and take notes is a hot tip. Fight your urge to check your email, Facebook, the weather for tomorrow, order groceries, or search for funny cat videos on YouTube. Commit to the meeting and be an active participant in the conversation, write down questions that you would like to ask and be prepared to have a follow-up conversation about the content of the meeting. Being a passive participant will never lead to quality networking or connections.

5. Follow-up

Now that the meeting is over, this is your chance to shine. You have done your research, you have introduced yourself in a short and effective way, you have asked engaging questions, and you have been an overall active participant in the meeting. You have all of the tools to make a great business connection so make sure to take the time after the meeting to put those tools to work. Schedule enough time after the conclusion of the meeting to send some follow-up messages and to make LinkedIn and/or Facebook connections. The focus of the follow-up message should be to set up one-on-one time. You can send this message via email or social media but do not hesitate to send it. You want the content and nature of your connection to be fresh in the other person’s mind. If you are struggling with what to say, here is a formula to use for your follow-up message.

  • Use a point from the presentation – an anecdote that you found interesting. It is even better if you can remember something that the other person said about the presentation. “I also found the topic that you discussed to be interesting.”

  • Make a personal connection – If you have properly done your research you can touch on something personal. “I also went to the University of Washington, Go Dawgs!”

  • Ask for a one-on-one – “I would love to learn more about your business and what you do. Can we do a virtual coffee meeting?”

Remember, use your research and your notes from the meeting to really personalize this message. Do not let your follow-up feel like a canned message.

We know that these waters can be tough to navigate and that there is still a level of discomfort when it comes to virtual meetings and networking events but we also need to realize that virtual meetings are no longer a way of the future. Virtual meetings are the way of now. I am not saying that we will never again drink wine in a room full of strangers. I am saying that we all need to get comfortable with presenting ourselves in a virtual setting and that following these simple steps will set you up to stand out in your next virtual meeting.

— Stephanie