The Future of Networking

Good communication is the key to successful relationships and this is relevant both socially and professionally. For business owners these relationships often start with meetings at networking events. When encountering new people it has always been important to listen as well as to talk and most of us have learned the social skills we need to cope in a face to face environment albeit some more so than others!

Whilst networking you meet all sorts and first impressions are often telling. For clever networkers the aim is to make friends with people rather than pitching their service and they are often also very good at welcoming and encouraging new visitors and those that appear to be shy. Regular attendance at events in your area eventually gets you noticed and you start to build a network of trusted acquaintances to whom you can provide referrals. In turn you start to receive referrals too. Happy days!

Then along came the pandemic and networkers had to pretty much start from scratch as they turned their attention to Zoom or other similar platforms. Many of the former rules had been replaced and attendance involved a whole new etiquette. No more conventional body language to read and instead it became all about studying the screen intently for clues.

Networking in both guises relies heavily on the organisers acting as facilitators and being aware of what’s going on around them. Keeping to the times specified in the agenda is very important to make sure each event has structure and flows smoothly. On Zoom especially it’s possible for more gregarious types to dominate proceedings which calls for the organisers to intervene diplomatically.

The future will no doubt see virtual events remaining part of the networking scene. Face to face suits people looking for local business whilst online attracts a far wider audience and there’s definitely room for both of them.