Networking During Covid
By Rose Strong
After nearly a year of no in-person gatherings of people in offices, conventions, meetings, and even the iconic meeting for coffee or business lunches due to the dangers surrounding coronovirus, we are stuck with rescheduling them virtually with no way to exchange business cards. Have you found a new way to network? If not, here are a few ideas for networking during COVID-19 and not losing out on opportunities.
Keeping up with your business network or meeting others with whom you could do business is more difficult during a pandemic, but much more important now than it has ever been. Lock-downs, working from home, and social distancing have caught those trying to do business development stuck behind a computer screen or perusing LinkedIn, not necessarily knowing what to do.
Beki Winchel wrote a blog for Ragan’s PR Daily, giving some great advice about continuing with your business networking during COVID-19. Her ideas of relying on existing contacts, turning to social media, and get-to-know-you interviews are spot-on for keeping you connected.
I’m a believer that your email signature is more important than ever. To simply type “Thank you” or end with only your name and no contact information underneath allows opportunity to slip by. Now is the time, as you seek alternative ways to network, to include a thoughtful email signature in your correspondence.
At Furia Rubel, a public relations and strategic marketing agency, it is practically impossible to effectively do our jobs and work with our clients without email. I think most businesses today are in the same position of using email to be competitive, responsive, and efficient.
Making the best use of the resources we have, Furia Rubel takes email just a step further and not only uses it for communication but also displays our contact information and brand, and gives a call-to-action when needed. This blog from Hubspot by Sophia Bernazanni entitled, 12 Clever Ways to Use Your Email Signature to Support Your Marketing Campaigns, gives some great ideas for using this nearly overlooked means of communication. Proving how fast things change in this techno-advanced world, Bernazanni wrote the article initially in 2016 but updated it in 2019. I, too, wrote a blog about how to use your email signature well before the pandemic hit.
Although technology has progressed, we have become more creative in using it to keep our businesses going. However, the old-fashioned way of sending a hand-written card or letter to someone is also a thoughtful gesture, often a surprise to the receiver, and it can score points in your favor. Not only does a card or personal note keep you and your company top-of-mind, but it may help bring you some business in the future. Can you pass up a windowless envelope in a pretty color in the pile of all those bills and junk mail? I know I can’t.
Julie Week wrote an article for the New York Times about how to keep your network both fresh and helpful during these pandemic times. Introductions from friends are a reliable way to learn about a new contact. Doing your research before you chat or have a virtual meeting is also part of the etiquette. Learn who the person is before you meet and greet online or over the phone.
Tiana Clark, one of the people interviewed in Julie’s article, says when she networks, she sends along what she calls a “brand narrative,” that is, “a one slide summary of her background, proudest achievements, and personal attributes.”
As the office manager at Furia Rubel, when an email from a team member is forwarded to me, I’m asked to make up a virtual business card in our database. If the person has an email signature at the bottom of their email, I copy and paste the information provided. It works like a charm. It also allows me to view their website, check out their social media presence, and see if they have a call-to-action they are anxious for folks to view.
Keeping the doors open during COVID-19 hasn’t been easy. The struggle has been real for many. Business and the economy must charge forward to keep us all solvent. Taking some of the hints above might be the push you need to find some new opportunities or provide others with the motivation they might need. It goes both ways.