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This blog post might feel late in the day, considering that many of us have been doing Zoom calls and networking meetings for some time now. So why would I take time to write about how to network effectively on Zoom now? Well, the short answer, is people are still missing, simple, but vital opportunities to maximise their time when networking and to connect and make themselves known.
As I chaired a networking meeting recently, I literally watched what people were doing and jotted down some tips and observations which I am delighted to share with you now.
No rocket science, just simple, easy implementable tips to help you excel when you are networking on Zoom.
If you are only starting to network, then these tips will get you started on the right foot.
Here we go:
1. Camera On Please
Why would you go to a networking meeting and keep your camera off? Please tell me why? People need to see your lovely face. They need to look into your eyes. They need to try to learn about you. Networking is about building up a know, like and trust factor…this leads to respect…and this leads to referrals and help for your business. But if no-one can see you, how can they help you?
IRL or in real life, you wouldn’t go to a networking event with a blacksack over your head, so why show up to a networking meeting and keep the camera off. I just can’t see the point to be honest. Most laptops have cameras on them already, but even if you don’t have one, you can simply attach a webcam to your computer.
Hybrid working, remote working, virtual networking – it’s all here to stay. Of course we will move back to more live and in person events, but Zoom is here to stay, so make it work to your benefit!
2. Mute Yourself
If you are not due to speak, but are in active listening mode, keep yourself on mute. As much as people are used to kid and animal zoombombing, they don’t need to hear when your postman has arrived. Be courteous to the group at large.
The following little tip, works on my Surface, so you can try it out for yourself. Using your space bar, tap it once to mute and once again to unmute. Try this out and see if it makes finding the mute button easier. Failing that, be aware of all the different places you can mute or unmute your profile when on a Zoom call, e.g.
a) mute/unmute button – to the left of the tool bar at the bottom of your screen
b) click into participants and go to your name – you an mute and unmute from there also
c) on your picture tile – when you toggle the mouse on the top right hand corner of your picture, there is a mute and unmute option there too
d) space bar on your keyboard as I mention above
3. Rename Yourself
Using your full Name, Surname & Your Business Name is wholly underutilised. For example, when I’m online my profile says: Jean Evans | NetworkMe. You know my name and my business name. I would suggest keeping it short. Some people use a description of their service, but if there are lots of people on a call, then the messaging gets truncated and therefore loses its value. Form it in such a way that people can read it no matter what ‘view’ they choose on Zoom.
Having John’s iPhone, Eimear’s iPad, Tim, Dorothy as the profile name is just ineffective.
Well, typically we need to see someone’s name and business name anywhere from 12-15 times before it resonates. So for me, using your name and business name, makes an immediate association between your name and what you do. It also makes it easier for me to find you and connect with you afterwards on Linkedin or other social media channels.
If you have your name listed as Tim, for example, I will never find you. Nor will anyone else and they aren’t likely to make the effort to connect with you.
Now, if you are called Mary Murphy, you may think that’s enough. But what if there are 100 Mary Murphys on Linkedin? How do I know which one is you if I can’t match it to your business? This is also where having a good professional photo on your Linkedin profile is important. You can read more about why personal brand photos matter here.
4. Use the Camera
Now we all do this. When speaking, we tend to watch the picture tiles to see reactions and get a gauge on what is going on…or we are simply interested or nosy – whatever the case may be.
But when it’s your turn to speak, to do an elevator pitch, try to get into the habit of speaking directly into the camera. By speaking into the camera, you’ll appear to speak directly to the audience, rather than looking down and ‘virtually’ avoiding eye contact.
Remember, eye contact is key to conveying confidence & credibility.
This takes a little practice, so you could have a little post-it-note beside your camera, to say – ‘look at camera when I’m speaking’ to remind yourself.
Another thing I often see is that people turn on their camera for their 60 second elevator pitch but have it off for the rest of the meeting. What I interpret from that is the following: I’m not interested in anyone else, so I’m just going to listen for my name, say my 60 seconds and then go back to doing whatever else I was doing…that’s not how good and effective networking works!
5. Use the Chat
If the host, chair or facilitator doesn’t ask you to put your contact details into the chat, go ahead and do it anyway.
I would always suggest starting with your Linkedin profile. From there, what and where do you want people to connect with you? You might want to mention other social media profiles, your website, your email, your mobile number – whatever is appropriate. Perhaps you are open for 1-2-1s and pop a note in to invite people to connect with you and to organise a meeting.
Try to use the https:// before any URL aor domain details that you put in the chat. This makes them immediately clickable and makes it easier for people to connect, follow, like and enjoy your content.
6. Vanity URLs
https://www.linkedin.com/in/xxxx – learn this off by heart. I see many people, who forget the /in/ part when writing out their profile in the chat function during a meeting, so it’s not clickable.
And what is a vanity URL I hear you ask? Well it’s the personalised ending of your link. Creating a vanity URL is super easy. Here’s how to do it:
- Open up Linkedin.
- Go to ‘ME’ on the top toolbar.
- Click on ‘VIEW PROFILE’.
- Now look at the right hand side of the page and you’ll see ‘EDIT PUBLIC PROFILE AND URL’.
- Click there and edit to create your new bespoke vanity URL to reflects you, your business or what you do for people. Here’s the difference:
If you make it easy to remember, you’ll always be able to pop it into the chat function when on your Zoom calls. You need to make it easy for people to connect with you.
When connecting on Linkedin, please always personalise your connection message to include, as an example:
The person’s name, where you met them, why you are connecting and any CTA, or call to action that might be appropriate before signing off with your name.
There is a rationale about this which I explore further in this blog where I explore some more Linkedin tips.
7. Active Listening
Camera on, camera off…listening ears engaged or closed? Now that is the question.
We were all told to listen more than we speak – two ears and one mouth. All true.
But to actively listen, you have to be engaged and to be intentional about your networking. If you are attending a networking event for an hour or an hour and a half, decrease or eliminate all distractions that you possibly can. You can survive without email and messaging for that time. Turn your phone over, so you don’t see push notifications and calls. Put it on silent too. Listen to what people are saying.
If you don’t listen, you can’t learn. If you don’t learn about a person and their business, you can’t learn how to help them. And learning to help others first, is at the core of real and successful networking.
I share some more thoughts on this blog about how to give if you’ve only started networking.
8. Power of One
Taking time out each week to do 1-2-1s is absolutely vital and key to succeeding and making the science of networking work for you. I always encourage people to do at least one 1-2-1 per week, per network that they are in.
Building a network takes time, but it’s only when you build those relationships over time, that it begins to take on a life of its own and has a compound effect. An easy way to manage this is to do a couple of things:
- Block some time in your diary each week, perhaps right after your networking meetings to have a 1-2-1. That way it’s defaulted. Pick a time of the week where you’re not in peak flow with clients or in a majorly productive part of the week. This might be a Friday morning or later in the afternoons. Watch your energy levels.
- Set up a Calendy link with the times you have chosen for 1-2-1s and send the link out to people in the chat, alongside your contact details. They can match their schedule to what you’ve already carved out and you’ll start getting those 1-2-1s in your diary and build your contacts. My 1-2-1 schedules run weeks in advance, so I always know I’m actively connecting and expanding my network.
9. Elevator Pitches
At many formal and structured networking meetings, there is the opportunity to do a 60 second elevator pitch, i.e. to tell people a little about your business, about you, who you serve and your unique value proposition.
But sometimes there are meetings where there are a lot of visitors, so I would always advise to have a 30 or 45 second version to hand too. It’s no harm having a 10 second version for when you are in an impromptu situation or at a general networking event – sometimes shorter is better.
But always remember, you want to leave the statement where the listener wants to know more. You can find more great advice on how to ACE your pitch from Maureen McCowen in this blog.
Make sure to time yourself too. If you aren’t prepared, it’s likely that you’ll waffle, not bring clarity or brevity to your statement and you’ll run over time.
10. Breakout Rooms
Very often breakout rooms are set up for people to have a more indepth chat with a smaller group of people. The formal elevator pitch isn’t appropriate here, and it becomes a more general conversation. It’s a good idea to be up to speed on current events, some topics of conversation, some questions that you might pose to others in the group. If you have this thought out in advance, you’ll be more relaxed, feel prepared and enjoy the networking experience.
11. Arrive Early
I think it’s always good to be early for networking meetings. Often the chit chat at the very beginning is a great opportunity to break the ice and put yourself at ease for the rest of the networking meeting.
This is particularly relevant if you are new to networking or nervous about networking. By arriving early, you connect with other early arrivals and it gives you an opportunity to be seen and heard in a small intimate setting. If you arrive late, it’s like ducking into a crowded room and not being seen. You need to establish yourself. And let me tell you, as a shy and introverted person myself, this is easier to do in small numbers than in big numbers.
Don’t overlook these small things. Building a network takes time and YOU need to make it easier for people to connect and find you.
I hope you find these tips for how to network effectively on zoom to be useful and easy to implement. It takes a little practice, but once you use them a couple of times, they’ll become second nature to you!
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