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4 Quick and Effective Hacks for Successful Business Networking

4 Quick and Effective Hacks for Successful Business Networking
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When I graduated from university, I wanted to be at every networking opportunity in the way that a small child wants to be at every birthday party. While all of the kids at a birthday would swing at a piñata for candy, all of the adults at a networking event are swinging at an invisible piñata of opportunity – so not too different, I guess. With a few spare minutes, I would search up every open networking brunch, party and event in Vancouver for that month. If possible, I would peruse into media meetups, and get myself onto lists for social hotspots where I could learn from other people, while also casually marketing myself to people I felt that I could work with.

With a few spare minutes, I would search up every open networking brunch, party and event in Vancouver for that month. If possible, I would peruse into media meetups, and get myself onto lists for social hotspots where I could learn from other people, while also casually marketing myself to people I felt that I could work with.

Finding a Better Balance

After speaking with several of my friends recently, it turns out that several of them are put off by the idea of a networking cocktail party, and I don’t blame them. After a while, making yourself consistently available during weeknights can be difficult, especially when you have other responsibilities and day jobs to be refreshed for. Not to mention knowing which chat topics work, when to throw your business card at someone, and being able to introduce yourself in a way that appears professional, yet relaxed and social.

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So I thought through which alternatives I have used and decided to make a list of quick networking tips for those who are tired of networking events and evenings, or for those who are perhaps not as comfortable in these settings. After all, it was thriving billionaire Richard Branson who suggested that a lack of life balance in ignoring our well-being may actually be what burns away our capabilities in the long term. For anyone aspiring to find a better balance, or find more time with your family, or even a few extra hours for the gym or the couch, this quick networking guide is for you!

  1. LinkedIn Messaging

One thing that I did do during my obsessive networking binge was gain connections through LinkedIn, and ACTUALLY converse with them; every conversation requires an initiation to begin, so I would direct questions to those who held impressive experiences under their name, in the hope that I could learn from them, and perhaps establish a mutual appreciation and understanding. This occurred on multiple occasions, and through this, I was able to gain advice I might not have found otherwise in my early twenties. I also gained access to more hush-hush events and hooked numerous tips on how to become more appealing in a professional sense.

Many of these individuals are people I am still in touch with today. So how do you decide who is best to contact? According to The Week, a great place to start is by envisioning that you have lost your job. Who would be the five to ten people you’d want to go to for advice? The worst thing that could happen is that they don’t have the time or desire to speak with you. At at that point, move on and connect with people who do want to speak with you!

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  1. Strategize Your Cocktail Party Endeavors

Given how effective personal connection can be, you could still attend a cocktail party, but with more premeditated thought. I know, many of you mentioned that you’re tired of cocktail evenings, but here’s where we can change it up. The Grindstone states that if you are able to research who is going to be there, and you find that there are three contacts that could drastically improve your vision and opportunity, focus specifically on finding and meeting them.

When I first started attending these types of events, I found myself trying to casually mingle with everyone, but this can be considered a weak approach, as receiving forty business cards is less powerful than three or four people who you made a deeper connection with through quick networking. If you know what you need to accomplish, make it happen, and deliver your message in a focused and direct way. This has you leaving earlier than you would have otherwise. Consider this as an ideal compromise.

  1. Follow Your Dream Contacts on Social Media

Sometimes, the best way to start a conversation is a post on social media, especially when it has been crafted by the person you are looking to connect with. According to Forbes, using social media to your advantage in business can allow for contacts to fall right into your lap. If someone posts something that you are curious about, ask them questions.

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If someone posts something that you enjoyed, share it and perhaps comment on how much you learned. Try to make this positive experience more about them, and less about promoting yourself. Surrounding yourself online with the content of clever people can also positively impact your thinking as well, and have you strive to be better at what you do.

  1. Encourage Conversation Through LinkedIn Pulse

If you already enjoy writing or are looking to learn from others, you might like the publishing feature on LinkedIn, known as LinkedIn Pulse. To summarize, you write and publish a blog-style post (often on something career-oriented that you are specialized in, or a response to something in the business world), and all of your connections are able to see it.

It might not seem like quick networking, but if you frame it to contain several questions, you may find that a few contacts reach out to you to give you their interpretation on your topic. Be sure to listen and show appreciation for their feedback (unless their feedback is highly rude and inappropriate). You can also send the link to your article to someone who you admire, and ask what their thoughts are on it.

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Conclusion

It seems that everyone can benefit from a dense network of compelling contacts. But not everyone is able to make the time to be out each night, networking until the break of dawn, and that is perfectly okay. Everyone is different, and there is not just one way to thrive and be successful. Hardcore attendance at local events worked for me, but so did quick networking. In fact, I was actually able to broaden my circle and establish more connections internationally, just by using these quick networking practices. If there are multiple methods to success, then why not sample the side that has your well-being in mind? it is important to acknowledge your health, as taking a break is professional, but burning out of steam on the job is not.

Featured photo credit: www.americancollegespain.com via americancollegespain.com

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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