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VIRTUAL NETWORKING

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How to network from home during the pandemic and beyond

COVID-19 has dramatically altered the economy and the work lives of millions. Conferences and events have been canceled, and many have had to adjust to working from home to mitigate the spread of the virus.

You may find yourself in this situation, having to help clients or reach out to prospects from home. That’s why it’s critical to learn how to virtually network. It may seem challenging, but there are resources to help you connect without physically sharing a space.

Here are four ideas for how you can network from home during the pandemic and beyond.

More work events online

Even though in-person events have been canceled, conferences and meetings can still be help online through live broadcasts or on platforms such as Zoom and GoToMeeting.

One organization, DCfempreneur, has moved online for its coffee chats, happy hours, and mastermind programs that provide women in business with the support they’ll need to get through the next weeks, CEO and founder Lisa Shapiro said on a podcast hosted by SonaBank POWER.

“We’re able to connect…face-to-face, hear each other, and be able to talk to each other,” Shapiro said.

The eWomenNetwork chapter of Northern Virginia has also moved events online, managing director Theresa White said on the podcast. For example, a workshop helping women get support for the obstacles they’re facing during the pandemic, including anxiety, homeschooling, and business issues, was recently held virtually.

“We were still able to break out and have three different breakout rooms via Zoom, where we were able to have smaller groups of people kind of network and get more connected,” White said.

Even people who aren’t used to online interaction have learned and been able to connect with people around the world, she said.

Join a virtual coworking space

Participating in a virtual coworking space has been beneficial for her team, Shapiro said.

“I went out and found a partner that has…developed a platform that is designed to help produce an in-office experience,” Shapiro said.

 For the next month, her more than 50 members will be interacting with each other in virtual conference rooms, lunch areas, workshops, and social spaces. Users can invite others, and then see each other, talk, and share links and external media.

Two examples of these coworking spaces are Sococo and MyWorkHive.

Use online scheduling tools

Another way to stay in contact is to use scheduling tools to set up meeting sand calls without playing phone or email tag.

“it’s really, really helpful to be able to send out an email to your current clients or your potential clients,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro uses Calendly for scheduling and recommends this type of program to the women she works with.

In addition to setting up meetings, scheduling tools are a great way to send emails inquiring after the well-being of your clients and asking what you can do to help.

Engage on social media

One of the simplest ways to network at home is through social media you’re likely already using, but in a more targeted way.

“When you’re on social media, instead of just doing a like or a heart, actually read through it and comment on it because that will help make the connection virtual,” White said.

Team members who have networked via social media have found success setting up phone calls and meetings with those they’ve interacted with, she said.

The opinions and information provided by the guests in this article do not constitute advice from, or the opinion of, Sonabank. 

Content written by WTOP.  

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