How to network during COVID-19 crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably changed our workspace, the way we communicate, and most importantly, how we acquire new leads. It is no longer possible for us to participate in physical events, impress people in person and there still is a widespread need to quickly adapt to these changes and stand out from the crowd. Clearly, the winners of this stressful time will be people who can take all of the problems that we currently face and turn them into massive competitive advantages.
How to meet new people?
Think about how you would meet new business owners previously, when we didn’t have many restrictions. Would you be using your membership in a specific networking community? Would you be searching for events online or getting recommendations from your friends? It is very likely that these societies have already adapted to the changes facing our society and they may be already hosting online events. By the way, you can still get recommendations from your friends and, like never before, you can find many events online.
While it is common to emphasise the negative impacts on networking in the mainstream news and social media, it is quite possible that this crisis opened up new opportunities to connect with people that you would have never met before if it wasn’t for the virus. Since so many of us are now staying at home, it is much easier for a freelancer in Hong Kong to find time for a call with an accountant in California, while previously we would be busy travelling, chatting in person, attending meetings and so on. This is one of the ways, mentioned beforehand, how we can turn a problem into an advantage.
How to communicate with others online?
We have just seen the rise of Zoom, which proved to be a program of choice for many of us. However, we shouldn’t forget that there are other major communication platforms that may serve your needs better. Here is a short summary of them:
My favourite choice, of course, is Group FaceTime. It allows up to 32 users to join a video call by using supported iPads, iPhones, iPads, or Macs. From my personal knowledge, FaceTime is the most secure communication platform and will probably stay number one for quite a while. And it is free.
For Android fans, I would recommend either Google hangouts or WhatsApp. Google because it must be deeply integrated within the android operating system, managed by Google. WhatsApp, because it has been very popular in many markets around the world and as well as Google hangouts it allows for users that use different communication platforms to message and call each other. One massive disadvantage of WhatsApp is that it does not have an iPad app, which can be a huge disadvantage for professionals that use their iPads as the main work device (let’s acknowledge that not everyone uses laptops).
In corporate world, Skype is still a popular option, since it connects to your Microsoft account. I personally haven’t tried Skype for almost 3 years, but who knows, the audio there might work as good as on Zoom. One important difference between Skype and Zoom is that Skype uses a calling functionality, while Zoom hosts virtual meeting rooms that you don’t have to call to.
And there is always a good old option of calling someone by using your phone. Some network providers have even reduced their rates during this time and created some great deals for unlimited minutes plans that can be quite handy while calling someone who is not familiar with any of the aforementioned options.
How to represent yourself online?
All of your leaflets are now safely sitting in the corner of the office or your room, so let’s find something really simple and quickly implementable to improve your visibility online and impress your clients! The good thing here is that you won’t need to wait for the physical delivery of the marketing material 🤔.
First, it is important to make sure that your website looks decent and provides all the necessary information about your business and activities. I personally know quite a few web developers that have significantly reduced their hourly rates to help more customers during this difficult time, thus don’t miss out the opportunity to invest a little bit into improving your online presence.
What about business cards? Well, you can get a digital business cards. It has been a reliable option, chosen by many professionals for more than a decade and with the rise of mobile technology, almost anyone can get one now. That also means that almost anyone with internet access can view them during the time when we are not supposed to leave our homes. At VERYCARDS we have worked hard to ensure that someone, who receives a digital business card based on our platform, can properly view all the details even on a desktop or an iPad. This proved to be important assets for people that prefer browsing on a bigger screen.
It is also a good time to invest at least a few minutes a day producing content on social media. Giving advice in your professional area has never been that valuable since many of us are currently seeking free support and less expensive services. It is worth knowing that customers tend to stick with companies and professionals that have been supportive during difficult times. Thus, the lockdown can be a great opportunity for you to grow your fan base.
It seems like we can summarise that the lockdown has simply opened new opportunities by not allowing for us to meet in person. And it is just a matter of our choices and actions of how successful we are going to be after all of this is over. We can always complain about how unfair and disadvantageous this current situation is, but we can also make a fortune by using tools, available to everyone.