My days at the moment seem to be filled with me sat at my dining room table, attending many networking events over Zoom. Just a few months ago I attended one or two of these in person (which, to be honest, I do prefer).
So, is online networking just as effective as physically being there?
I think it’s a case for discussion; there are pros and cons for either scenario. It also depends not just on the platform you use, but what you put into the group(s) you visit.
Firstly, as with any form of networking, there’s no point visiting a group once and expecting it to result in loads of business from that first visit. It takes time to build trust and form relationships (you may have heard me speak about this in a previous article) and to create rapport with the other attendees.
You can certainly build rapport more quickly in a face-to-face environment, as it’s much easier to read body language. Plus, if you really want to speak to someone, you can just approach them to start a conversation.
Not that long ago, I attended an online networking event, and I was trying to speak to someone who’d registered an interest in chatting to me at a previous event. I sent them a message through the chat function, but they completely ignored it (or, possibly, they didn’t even see it)—it was definitely much harder to grab their attention.
A benefit of networking online is that you don’t need to rush through traffic or have to travel long distances to attend. This can save lots of time, money and stress. You can also reach a wider network, geographically, and if, like me, you’re asked to attend an event at 6.30am, it’s a less daunting task to be at my dining room table for that time on a morning.
There are also those people who may be less physically able to get to an event in person. For example, there’s a lady who runs a networking event I attend who uses a wheelchair—she loves online networking!
It’s much easier to take notes during an online session, and you don’t have to worry about juggling your cup of tea or coffee with your handbag, breakfast, etc. It can also prove more cost-effective in terms of meeting fees—many online networking meetings are now cheaper; some are even free to attend.
I’m a member of some great networking groups, where the participants really do try to help each other. Even if they themselves don’t need your particular businesses offering, they will look out for other businesses/contacts that may need it.
So, if you fancy trying out online networking in the South Yorkshire area, get in touch with me. I’d be happy to share details of the groups I know of.
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