Networking. Marketing. Sales. Some of us love it. Some of us hate it.

If you’re a business owner, you know you have to network, especially if your role involves marketing and bringing in sales. Problems pop up when you’re networking as usual but aren’t getting much business in return. What happens if there’s another challenge: social distancing due to an outbreak like the coronavirus?

Is there a right way and a wrong way to network or does networking feel yucky, given the circumstances? What’s the best thing to do when all of your events are being cancelled, you still have to work, and isolation starts to creep in?

Stay connected.

3 Tips to Building a Stronger Networking Connection with Your Online Community 

1. Virtual or Not. Geeez. Stop talking about yourself.
Whether you go to a networking event or meet someone new online, how much time do you spend talking about yourself? We’re all a little guilty of being a bit self-centered, but the best way for people to remember you is by making them feel important.Take a page from Dale Carnegie’s playbook, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and be genuinely interested in what others have to say. Make it a point to get to know people on a deeper level other than, “Oh that’s John. He sells insurance.” You may have earned an opportunity to get someone’s undivided attention, so find out who they are, what they do, and how they got there.

In a time like this when almost all networking events are being cancelled, and life feels a bit uncertain, make connecting online a priority. Spend more time on LinkedIn or Zoom. Create and join virtual Happy Hours or find a LinkedIn group that’s been on your list forever.

In order to stay connected with the outside world, you have to start a conversation — or take part in one. Thousands of people may be working alone, and appreciate the company, instead of just talking to their pets.

2. Pick Up the Phone. Extend an invitation.
“You don’t know what you don’t know.” This is an important time to stay in touch with friends, colleagues, customers, and prospects. Though it may feel like you’re interfering (you might have grown up that way), reach out by phone or text. Email is ok too. I’ve received messages from colleagues, friends, and clients. Most asked if I was ok, others apologetically asked for a bit of advice, which is natural considering they work with me. It gave me a chance to listen, help them, and also let them know what’s going in my life.

Glad you asked.

My eldest daughter is having a baby any minute, and my youngest and her husband are on their honeymoon in Antarctica.  I’m hoping that they’ll be able to fly back soon. I shared, now you? What’s going on in your life?

3. Is Reacting to Special Offers a Way to Connect?
Why not? If you respond via email, chat, or by phone and get a personal message back, you’re connecting. Today, I received an offer from Peter Shankman, founder of HARO  who was discounting his Master the Media program so substantially, I’ll probably buy it. I’ll get a fresh perspective on pitching the media, and will be able to share that insight with clients, on webinars, at strategic work sessions, and also on my marketing blog and daily podcast, Fast Marketing Minute. What can you offer?

The conclusion to all of this is that you might be stuck at home, in lockdown, feeling out of sorts working alone, but the reality is you are never alone. There’s a big world out there that wants to feel connected too. Pop on social media. Hear these high school students sing their hearts out on Twitter. Follow the hashtag #SunshineSongs. Make lemonade when lemons seem to be the only thing on the tree.

It’s time to connect with friends, colleagues, and prospects. You’re still in business. Mindful counts, and caring the most.

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