Since the pandemic began, many transformations have taken place or are taking place. One of the main changes that characterize the “new normal” is, without a doubt, the way we relate. And this is not just for the personal aspect: in the professional sphere, in a context of scarce opportunities for face-to-face meetings, it is necessary to invest in virtual networking.
Large corporate events, such as fairs, which are ideal occasions to make great professional contacts, unfortunately, should not happen for now. On the other hand, relationships need to keep being activated. In other words, it’s time to find ways to start making or intensifying contacts online.
However, to create a good professional network and leverage the results, it is not enough, for example, to join LinkedIn and make massive connections, shooting to all sides, without any strategy.
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For that reason, in this article, we’ll cover the trend of virtual networking and its importance now—and in the future as well—and provide some tips for building good virtual professional relationships.
Why does virtual networking need to become a routine?
Mainly due to the need for social distance, the pandemic accelerated several processes, many of them related to innovation and digital transformation. E-commerce, remote sales, use of new payment methods, home office work are some of them.
The list is long and is also associated with important changes in behavior that we need to be aware of in order to be able to direct efforts to succeed in this “new” world. In this sense, adapting the way of doing business is a necessity and that includes making contacts and finding potential customers.
Driven by the need to enable professionals to increase their connections and be able to, in addition to interacting, collaborate together, one of these steps is virtual networking. Want to better understand why he should get into your routine?
Search for new ways to activate relationships
Conferences, fairs and niche events are great opportunities to connect with others. However, in the current context, it is unlikely that we will be able to go to places like these in person in the near future, as agglomerations are not recommended due to the high risk of contamination.
On the other hand, relating is fundamental for business. Therefore, virtual networking is the possible way, today, to activate relationships and not be isolated without a network with interesting and promising new contacts.
Develop partnerships for joint growth
As with traditional networking, virtual networking is also very important for developing strategic partnerships — which have become even more valuable in the post-pandemic business world.
The purpose of making partnerships is to benefit the other and have benefits (the famous win-win). Therefore, having a good network of contacts at this time can help to find new ways to go in search of good results.
Fuel the top of the funnel and get more leads
Virtual networking is also a great resource for meeting people interested in your product or service and fueling the top of your sales funnel . As with in-person events, you can also approach potential customers and introduce yourself, showing how you can help them, virtually.
The approach is somewhat different, of course, but the purpose is the same: to involve prospects in your network in order to ultimately convert more leads and reach sales targets.
See also: Team motivation in the pandemic: how to deal with the fatigue of the sales team a year later?
Check out our networking tips to fuel the top of the funnel:
How to virtual network: check out 4 tips to expand your network of contacts
Now that you know why it is high time to invest in virtual networking, the question is: how to relate to the help of technology and the internet and expand your network of professional contacts? Let’s get to the tips!
1. Use social media strategically
Social networks, especially LinkedIn, have already been widely used to create professional relationships and are a great “place” to search and identify people worth knowing. However, how do you use this tool? Defined a Social Selling strategy, are you monitoring the results?
To make the most of social media in this sense, it is necessary to use them strategically and conscientiously—not intuitively. Like other forms of approach, this one also requires planning, setting goals, and measuring numbers.
In relation to LinkedIn, for example, it is very ineffective to send a connection and, once accepted, a sales message or a meeting request. With the migration of much of the prospecting efforts to this network, what works is to build a cadence of interactions combined with content production. Thus, in fact a relationship will be created that leads to results.
With the support of Marketing, it is even possible to provide insights to capture the attention of your prospect, such as success stories, industry research, and informative guides, among others.
2. Participate in online events
Although it is a crucial tool, making contact on social media is not always enough to engage people and really get closer. Therefore, it is essential to participate in online events — those that are being designed precisely to replace face-to-face meetings and which therefore have the same purpose: to bring together people with similar interests.
These opportunities may be less effective in quantity, but they certainly offer more quality, so your chances of actually connecting with people and finding prospects or partners increase significantly.
It is worth remembering that the events are also adapting to provide these interactions between the participants, which took place in person during coffee breaks, during visits to the stands and in the dynamic proposals in the lectures.
3. Promote online dating
One of many companies’ main strategies for virtual networking is to hold their own online events, such as lives and webinars. Marketing strategy has proven effective among many organizations, which managed to find their own and creative ways to realize these moments.
It is even an opportunity to generate value for current customers, by promoting dynamics and interactions between them through meetings organized by your company.
However, here is also the hint that this is not about doing it just like that: the strategy needs to be thought out so that you can carry out a series of events that attract interesting contacts to your business. It’s time to get creative and think outside the box. After all, we are also saturated with lives on social media after a year of pandemic.
So, the question is, what kind of virtual meeting could your company promote that would generate the most value to the audience? The answer can be a closed meeting to exchange experiences, a chat with a market specialist, a virtual relationship fair, among many other possibilities.
4. Become a fan of virtual networking with purpose
Finally, it is important to highlight that networking, in order to make sense and bring the expected results, must always be done with purpose, whether in person or digitally. When working to build a network of contacts, the aim should always be to build lasting relationships that are beneficial to both parties.
In fact, if we think about it, this posture has everything to do with the moment we live in, in which we need to strive to keep ourselves connected and close, even if physically distant, and unite to overcome challenges and move forward.
Time to increase your network of contacts!
As we have seen, there are no concrete predictions of when we will be able to have fairs and face-to-face events where we can connect with potential customers and partners. So it’s time to face up to the fact that online interactions need to be part of every salesperson’s weekly routine. Frequent participation in events, strategic activation of contacts via social networks and scheduling of relationship conversations need to be on the agenda, with a focus on the short, medium and long term.
And if you’re the lead in the field, make sure your sales professionals have all the tools they need to make this happen, such as documented materials, scripts, and processes. More than ever, we need to bet on the power of relationships to achieve the necessary results!