The UK, along with many other countries, has had various lockdowns and meeting people face-to-face has been suspended or restricted when allowed. The usual ways of conducting business, including networking, have now been almost exclusively online for almost a year – Urbano’s last event with people in a venue was Wednesday March 4th 2020. Since then, in common with most networks, we have hosted our networking – alongside seminars and speaker events – online.
Other online networking channels have come to the fore, especially LinkedIn, but its weakness as a platform for networking has become all too apparent. In the right hands, its size means that 99% of your business contacts will be profiled on there. The issue is how slanted networking has become towards the words sales or business development in their job titles. Many think it is enough to send a ‘connect’ invite without even writing a personalised note.
These same people are the ones who approach you at events, spend a minute pitching there services at you, thrust their business card into your hands, and rush off to find their next victim.
Through Urbano, we continued to view online networking as a way to introduce those who hadn’t met (Contacts) and help those who knew each other (Connections) explore potential ways to work together (Opportunities), which happens when you find out things you have in common (Relationships).
We have also learned how to host and facilitate events online and onscreen. Companies have started to realise that their resilience to business interruption was dependent on key relationships they had mostly nurtured after meeting at a networking event. The same approach is still needed to uncover new opportunities for every company.