Business Dev/Sales

Networking in a Virtual World


Six months into the COVID-19 crisis, we can run video conference meetings in our sleep, and social media has taken on greater importance than ever before in our business development efforts. But have we really mastered the nuances of the virtual world and maximized its potential to move the dial on networking and business development?

Social scientist and business psychologist JD Gershbein, president of Owlish Communications, challenges marketers to recognize and maximize the new dynamic of virtual business development. Gershbein said virtual networking enables us to build more thoughtful relationships, but we must put in the time and effort.

Shifting the Paradigm

Before the COVID-19 crisis, “many of us would go to an event with a pocket full of business cards and work the room,” Gershbein said. “We had our value proposition lined up and ready to go. We chatted with people, then followed up with them on LinkedIn. After that, people often went dark. There would be nothing.”

The paradigm has shifted with virtual networking because the videoconference format puts each participant front and center when they are speaking.

Lose the Hoodie

Personal branding is as important during a videoconference meeting — whether it is a networking event or an internal firm meeting — as it is in person, Gershbein said.

“For the first couple of months (of the COVID crisis), I was showing up to meetings in hoodies and shorts like everybody else. But now we have to amp it up and be careful how we present ourselves.”

Videoconferences and LinkedIn are lifelines in building your brand, but how you show up, step up and follow up in your video meetings will dictate your outcomes, Gershbein said. “We have to bring it.”

Make People Comfortable

If you’re unaccustomed to the online (Zoom) space he recommends arriving early, talking with the organizer in the waiting room, and looking at the names in the participant panel.

“Research them, reach out to them after the call,” he said. “You’ve shared an experience already so you can be authentic. During the meeting keep your eyes on the webcam. People are noticing you.”

What about turning off the camera and muting your mic?

“At my events, I don’t allow that,” Gershbein said. “You come to one of my events and you’re front and center, centered in frame, you’ve got your mic on and you’re ready to contribute to the dialogue.”

Click here to read the full story on Networking in a Virtual World in the Fall 2020 issue of Growth Strategies.

About Dana Bottorff

Dana Bottorff is a Principal at Anadon Marketing/Communications. She helps CPA firms and professional services companies create a distinctive voice in the marketplace with marketing messaging that conveys a unique brand.

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