Networking Online – What You Need to Know for a Highly Successful Meeting
Whether you’ve been networking online for years or have started more recently due to in-person meeting restrictions, the basic rules and etiquette of networking remain the same. Although you may be wearing an old pair of sweatpants and slippers that no one will see, it’s important to take the necessary steps to make that essential first impression a good one.
You may be asking yourself, what does an energy healer and healer’s healer know about networking? The answer is quite a bit. As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve been networking in-person and online for decades. I’m also a past president of my area’s largest BNI Chapter. If you’re not familiar with what Dr. Meisner and BNI have to say about effective networking, you’re missing out. Networking, done the right way, is highly effective. It’s always good to remember that people do business with those they know, like, and trust. Proper networking helps build that foundation. The following list will help ensure you have a proactive and effective meeting.
- Do have the courtesy to cancel if you can’t make the meeting. Even if something comes up or you decide to cancel at the last moment, rather than just not showing up, drop the person a message, text, or call and tell them you can’t make it. It’s far more professional than a no-show. Recently, at the end of a networking meeting, I thanked my partner for her time and for showing up. She told me I was the third person that day to say thanks for showing up. She was very surprised when I told her how many people simply skip out. Her response – “Who wants to do business with someone that flakey?” Don’t risk being seen as flaky. Show up or cancel.
- Do show up and be on time. We all have busy schedules. Do your best to show up on time. And again, if you’re running late, drop the person a note via email or text. It’s inconsiderate to leave someone waiting. I wait 10 minutes. If there is no response, I disconnect from the meeting. However, if the person has contacted me to say they are running late, I will wait.
- Do be prepared. Take a few minutes to do a little research on who you’re meeting. You wouldn’t believe how many times people connect with me, and the first thing they ask is, “What do you do?” I know immediately that they haven’t read my profile or visited my website. How do you know if you are meeting with your perfect prospect or referral partner if you don’t do your research?
- Do be professional. Even though we live in a much more relaxed world, it’s still a good idea to show up with a professional appearance. Granted, nobody needs to know that you’re in slippers. Dress appropriately from the waist up and be well-groomed. First impressions always count. Also, be seated and ready to go! Nobody wants to look at your ceiling for the first few minutes of the call while you walk down your hallway to get settled in your office.
- Do silence your phone and other devices that may cause interruptions. Make sure you’re in a quiet space. If you can’t be in a quiet space, informed the people in your surroundings that you’re going to be in a meeting.
- Do check your camera position and background. Adjust your device so that it is at eye level. Trust me. Nobody wants to look up your nose, and that’s what happens if your camera is too low. Also, keep in mind that those fake, computerized backdrops can get fuzzy. I met with one woman whose hair kept disappearing. Consider conducting a practice meeting and record it so you can see how you appear.
- Don’t put your face too close to the screen. Practicing personal space rules of 4 -6 feet count during online meetings as well. One person I met with was so close to the screen, I thought he was going to pop right through my computer. I found myself backing away. My personal space felt violated.
- Do share the conversation. It’s unlikely to establish a productive meeting if you don’t allow the other person to talk. Rather than talking endlessly about yourself, your product or service, and your work, be sure to let the other person talk. Ask lots of questions. Remember, people like to be talked to, not talked at.
- Don’t do anything during the meeting that you wouldn’t do in a corporate board room. This includes things such as fixing your hair in the camera, applying lipstick, or flossing your teeth. Second to looking up your nose, nobody wants to watch while you conduct personal grooming.
- Don’t put people on your mailing list without asking first. This is an age-old networking rule from the days of business cards. People would collect them and go straight home to add those names to their mailing list. This is a big no-no! Often, if you have the courtesy to ask, people will give you their permission. I like to keep my business inbox free of distractions, so I typically give my personal email when asked.
What tip did you find most helpful?
Which of these rules have you seen broken, and how did it make you feel?