How to Network When You’re Practicing Social Distancing
Wondering where your next lead is coming from? Wishing you could just get out there and get to know new-to-you professionals? Without the opportunity to attend in-person networking events, loan officers, like you, may find themselves wondering where their next prospect is coming from. Social distancing means keeping physical space between yourself and individuals who do not live in your household. It doesn’t mean you need to be less social. In fact, it may be a good idea to put more effort into reaching out, building a community, and growing your network.
Offer Help to Your Audience
In times of turmoil, one of the best ways you can get to know more people in your community is by showing up as a helper. What can you do to help others? Can you film videos that would be helpful to your prospects and upload them to YouTube? Consider hosting a question and answer session during a live video on Facebook or Instagram. Another option for helping includes holding online office hours or creating a webinar as part of a sales funnel. By offering assistance, you’re opening up yourself to new clients while also doing good in your community.
For example, executive coach Krista Spence is joining forces with a colleague to offer a free group coaching call to their extended networks. Not only will combining efforts bring new people into their individual networks, but these two coaches are leading from a place of service.
Spence says, “I’m hosting a complimentary group session because I believe it’s one way I can give back during this difficult time. I’m passionate about helping people. It is literally what gets me out of bed every morning, and I know there are people out there that need support!” Spence continues, “People need connection with other people — I know I sure do. It is also a way for people to experience my coaching and facilitation approach. If they need support in the future, they’ll know what it is like to work with me.”
Share Networks With a Peer
You don’t have to go it alone. Trying to figure out a networking plan in the “new normal” is an overwhelming feat, but teaming up with a colleague widens the audience you attract without having to invest in other options such as paid advertisements.
Spence says, “I chose to offer the complimentary coaching session with another coach because it’s a way for the both of us to gain exposure to each another’s network. Plus, I love the energy that comes from partnering with a like-minded person!”
If you’re looking to lead, but feel like attracting people on your own is a massive undertaking, contact your peers, both in the same vertical and in complementary industries, to work together.
Host Video Networking Events
If you’re not sure what you can create or offer at this time, one way to show up is to simply be the host! Sure, you’ve always been the attendee in the past, but now you can be the event planner. Host an online networking event using a video-conferencing tool, such as Zoom or Google Hangouts. Then, use social media or your email list to invite people to your virtual networking meetup.
Brand strategist Mallika Malhotra says, “I’m offering free brand Power Hours, which includes open dialogue and time for Q&A, to my network so we can continue to connect and build relationships. Plus, I can support women biz owners who need help pivoting or evaluating their brand message in the current climate. This fills my need for community and my love for branding!”
Attend Online Networking Events
If the idea of planning a virtual get-together stresses you out, don’t do it! Just show up as an attendee to the many virtual networking events being offered online.
Mike Moreno, CEO of Much More Media, has moved to attending networking events like virtual happy hours in this pandemic. He says, “These events are being held by companies and groups that I already followed, so I love that they’re giving us an opportunity to meet from our homes with a drink in hand. I find they help with networking, especially right now, because they still have the same level of connection and relationship building as an in-person event.”
Ask for Pointed Connections
You know that network you’ve already built? Now is the time to lean on it for new connections. Reach out to the people you know and trust and ask them if they’d be willing to introduce you to people in their own networks. To make this request successful, first consider who exactly do you want to meet. Are you looking for peers in your same industry to work together to brainstorm options for growth? Maybe you’d like to connect with someone in a similar industry who would be a good referral source in the future. Or, you might just want business, and if that’s the case, you can always ask your network if they know anyone specifically you can reach out to.
Networking during a crisis in which you’re not able to meet and greet in person may feel impossible, but it’s not. With a little creativity and the willingness to try something new, you can grow your connections authentically and maybe even have a little fun with it at the same time.