You might have to work from home -- either because you and your team or business have always been virtual or because of emergent issues like the current coronavirus crisis -- but that doesn't have to keep you from networking. Keeping in touch with your connections is always a good idea.
Here are three easy ways to network from afar.
1. Hold video coffee meetings.
Sometimes you just need to see someone else's face. And video conferences don't have to be reserved for getting work done. One of my networking groups has been meeting by Zoom, and the energy has been as high as when we've all been in the same room. It's great for 1:1 networking too. One of the women from that networking group and I did a Zoom coffee date. While Ellen sipped her coffee and I had my tea, we exchanged business ideas and referrals.
Think about who you could ask to join you for a video chat. Reach out to colleagues or clients you haven't seen in person in a while. If this technology is new to you, this is a low-pressure way to learn. Maybe reach out to someone you know who's a pro at Zoom-- or Google Hangouts or GoToMeeting or whatever-- and ask them to connect and show you the ropes.
2. Up your texting game.
Every day lately, I make a point to check in via text on a few people in my life, including my professional circle. I call it the text-in. How are you doing? How's work? How did that presentation go?
Work texts are often more transactional. Can we push back that meeting? Did you see that email?
But the text-in is more about the relationship.
Here's what one friend and fellow small business owner texted in response to my recent text-in:
"We will get through it. and I think those of us who make a point to touch base now will be stronger on the other side. So thank you very much for checking in. I appreciate it more than you know."
I think I'm going to make this a new habit going forward. Some of my friends have said they're stealing this idea. Go ahead, take it and run with it.
3. Pay attention to LinkedIn.
LinkedIn was made for virtual networking. Peruse your connections and ask yourself who you haven't caught up with recently. Message connections to say they've been on your mind and ask if they want to catch up by phone or video. Maybe make it a goal to message a certain number of connections a week and to book a certain number of "meetings" each week, too.
And for goodness sake, check and respond to your messages.
These ideas could come in handy now as well as in more normal times when you are simply to busy to be out and about and see people face to face. After this current crisis passes, I have the feeling we will better appreciate our in-person interactions.