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How To Win At Video Networking Part1

How to win at video networking on Zoom - part 1

Business networking is a highly effective form of marketing. In this article we share the unwritten rules that will help you be a successful networker.

by Credit Passport
5 MINS READ

Part 1 of a 2-part guide!

Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing there is. According to research by Nielsen, it’s perceived as the most credible kind of advertising, with 83 per cent of people trusting recommendations from friends and family members.

Harnessing the power of these personal referrals is the goal of business networking. Meeting fellow business people helps you spread the word about your business and theirs. And although in-person meetings aren’t permitted under lockdown, many networking events have successfully transitioned to using online video.

It’s wrong to think of networking as a method of meeting potential clients. It’s certainly possible to do that, but increasing visibility for yourself and your business is even more valuable. If people first get to know you and then trust you, they’re more likely to recommend you to their own clients, family and friends.

Getting to that stage, though, takes time. Networking is more of a slow burn than paid Google or Facebook ads. You might have to attend networking events for a year or perhaps longer before generating a decent return. That’s why it’s important to set goals before you start, and review them every six months, alongside other forms of paid marketing. Don’t forget to factor in the time you’ll have to spend away from your job as well as the cost of attendance.

So what kinds of networking events are there? Broadly speaking, there are one-off events and regular groups. One-off events are typically held alongside exhibitions, launch events or seminars. While these aren’t happening during lockdown, some are available to book later in the year - you’ll find them listed in the Business section of Eventbrite.

If people first get to know you and then trust you, they’re more likely to recommend you to their own clients, family and friends.

Networking groups meet regularly - typically once a week or fortnightly - and many are now taking place online. Most groups charge an annual membership fee. Some groups are local to a particular town or area while others, including 4N and BNI, operate nationwide. During lockdown, 4N is allowing access to any of its regional or national groups for £5+VAT. Meanwhile, BNI allows you to visit meetings of its chapters for free before you decide whether or not to join.

BNI has a policy of only allowing one person per profession to join each chapter. This means that you won’t be able to join, or even visit, a chapter if there’s already a member in the same profession as you. The flipside is that if you’re eligible to join a chapter, your local competitors won’t benefit from the group. It’s a policy that clearly works, as BNI is the world’s largest networking organisation.

At group meetings, both regular members and visitors get the chance to give short pitches - typically 40 seconds or 60 seconds long. You should rehearse the timings so that you don’t speak for longer. At the start of your pitch, introduce yourself and your business, and say it again at the end as a reminder.

It’s best to be as specific as possible in your pitch, as it helps other people remember what and who you’re looking for. For example, don’t just say you’re looking to connect with HR professionals. Say you’d like to be introduced to Jane Barnes, HR director of ABC Engineering Services. Someone in the group may know Jane. If not, they may know someone who does the same job at the same kind of company.

The real power of networking is not in the formal meetings but in the follow-ups. If there’s someone in the group who meets the same clients you’re looking to speak to, follow up by scheduling a one-to-one (written “1-2-1”) meeting with them. For example, an SEO specialist might benefit from a 1-2-1 with a website designer. A 1-2-1 is a meeting is held solely so you can learn more about their business and vice versa.

Mutual benefit is the key to success at networking. Most business people you meet won’t end up being your customers. But if you treat networking like a two-way street, and help other business people get clients, they’ll be more likely to help you in the future.

It’s best to be as specific as possible in your pitch, as it helps other people remember what and who you’re looking for

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