Considerations for Virtual Networking
There are many benefits to networking virtually including the ability to connect with anyone outside of your own geography and the flexibility to schedule at times outside of regular business hours.
Note that the best practices of networking, such as finding contacts, initiating contact, preparing for a conversation, engaging in conversation, following-up after the meeting, and maintaining contact, are the same when you network virtually. However, there are some additional considerations you want to keep in mind to make the best impression you can in a remote environment.
Choosing a Medium
While telephone and video conferencing are both options for virtual networking, video is preferred if possible because you are able to communicate not only through voice but also through non-verbal cues. Connecting via the telephone is a good second choice if video conferencing is not an option or there are issues with the internet connection. That said, if the professional you are connecting with prefers a telephone meeting, then that is the best option.
Making a Good Impression in Virtual Networking Meetings
- Test out your internet connection and the software program (i.e. Zoom) ahead of time. If experiencing issues, you can consider either turning off your video (for internet connection issues) or switching the meeting to be via telephone.
- Verify the meeting time when contacting someone in a different time zone.
- Wear business casual or business professional as you would for an in-person meeting.
- Position your camera before the meeting to make sure the background and camera angle is appropriate. Consider a virtual background if necessary.
- Be punctual and mindful of time. By logging onto the chosen medium 10 minutes early, you can troubleshoot any unexpected issues and be ready to start the meeting on time.
- Limit distractions and background noise. Let any roommates know in advance that you will be taking a virtual or telephone meeting and ask them to give you space during that time.
- Wear headphones to avoid audio feedback.
- If engaging in a virtual networking event, engage in real-time messaging via the chat box by asking questions and commenting on the presentation.
- Because no travel was necessary for your meeting, be very timely with sending a follow-up thank you note(s) no later than 24-48 hours.