How to grow your network without networking events

Networking can be a key way to keep your business growing.

Regardless of your industry or business size, it is hard to ignore the benefits of forming professional networks for potential partnerships, expanding your client base, and scaling up. However, while we are all constantly reminded about the importance of networking, reaching out to grow your network isn’t the same now thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social restrictions to prevent spreading the coronavirus do not allow traditional networking approaches such as in-person conference events or face-to-face business meetings over coffee or dinner. However, this doesn’t mean that you should put all your networking efforts on hold, because no one can really tell when this global crisis will end.

In fact, it becomes more important than ever to try new ways to increase your sales and ensure that your business stays afloat during these difficult times. In this article, we will explore a couple of strategies to keep up your networking efforts during the COVID-19 crisis and well into the future.

Host Webinars, Online Courses, or Podcasts

Webinars, online courses, and podcasts give you a chance to establish thought leadership and be at the forefront of your industry.

Now that most of the world is in lockdown, it is the perfect time to start that project you’ve been meaning to work on but haven’t found the time. When done right, you will be able to engage people in your existing network and add more people to your database.

Take the time to do some planning on the industry-relevant topics that you’d want to discuss on your webinar, online course, or podcast, and include interactive activities that will keep your audience engaged. Don’t forget to let the participants know about your other courses or webinars, as these subscribers can help you keep your network growing.

Offer Free Downloadable Content

Whether you are creating fresh content or repurposing existing content that you already have, aim to provide value that will attract new people to your network.

You might create ebooks, courses, whitepapers, research reports, and other valuable pieces of content that people in your industry will find useful. Offer your content to your current contacts and promote them even further through social media, email marketing.

Take Part in New Online Communities

As the COVID-19 pandemic changes the way we interact, you should move online to connect with more people. Join virtual discussion groups and online communities that will give you an opportunity for targeted networking.

When you do an online search of relevant groups, you will find that there are thousands of them. You don’t have to join every single one– just choose two to three that are most suitable and start participating. Engage by reacting and commenting on other people’s posts, provide useful tips and consider sending a direct message to start a conversation. Don’t try to be too “salesy” though.

Tailor your messaging

When trying to connect with people online, don’t just send a stock-standard template– develop strong relationships by maintaining sincere and genuine interactions. In other words, don’t send a message that you wouldn’t be comfortable receiving.

Make the effort to personalise each email instead of sending a generic message. You can reference a past event that you both attended or projects that you worked on together in the past, if there are any, in order to show authenticity when reconnecting.

If this is not applicable, you can also share encouraging words and stories, or ask if there’s anything you can help with.

Participate in Philanthropic Initiatives

Times of crisis teach us that we are stronger if we work together. In these trying times, there are a lot of initiatives to help those in need.

By collaborating with charitable organisations and participating in volunteer programs, you are hitting two birds with one stone– doing some good for society and tapping into opportunities to expand your network.

Aside from adding people you’ve worked with in these philanthropic events into your contact list, you can also share these experiences on social media.

Keep Growing Your Network

These are tough times for many people, and the idea of networking may not be on your priority list. However, it is essential to keep working on those human connections, as the effort you invest in making them will have a significant return on your business in the long run. By nurturing and strengthening your relationships during this period, you will enjoy positive impacts that last until better times return.

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