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With quarantine and social distancing becoming our new norm, the prospect of networking events and conferences appears bleak. Yet, the emergence of virtual networking events provides an opportunity to continue meeting new relationships from home.

Video calls allow “face-to-face” conversations, but they lack the flexibility and in-person advantages of the networking events we were once used to. To fully utilize them, it’s important to take extra steps before, during, and after each event.

We’ve made a list of 5 tips and tricks that will help you effectively network during online meetings and conferences.

1. Use the Chat Function

Entering a virtual networking event, it can be very difficult to make yourself known to the other participants. Networking and Relationship expert J. Kelly Hoey recommends introducing yourself using the chat function at the start of the event.

By introducing yourself in the chat with your name, occupation, and where you reside, you’re already building connections with the other participants. This makes it easier for others to reach out to you during or after the call and provides conversation starters.

But don’t limit yourself to just an introduction! During presentations, using the chat function to ask questions or express your opinions can show your engagement with your new connections.

2. Have your LinkedIn and UpHabit Ready

Sometimes, there may be breaks during the event in which you don’t have to focus on the content in front of us. According to our own Founder Neil Wainwright, this is the perfect opportunity to search and add people with a quick note on LinkedIn. So before your event, be sure to open LinkedIn on your browser for easy access.

Plus, if they accept, they’ll automatically be added to your UpHabit Discover tab, with contact information and profile pictures. From there, you can easily use all of UpHabit’s features to help you nurture these new relationships!

3. Do your Homework

For any networking event, it’s always recommended you do some research beforehand. Understanding your goals, the individuals that will be there, and their backgrounds will help you have a clear plan.

As a digital marketing expert Shelcy Joseph highlights, doing your homework will narrow your conversations and help your new connections feel receptive. You may find common interests and shared experiences to talk about. Coupled with our next tip, online conversations will be far less awkward.

Not to mention, having a plan will help you talk to the right people and focus your efforts. When you’re in the confines of a video call, this can be priceless.

To help you keep track of and remember important details of all your contacts, you can write notes for each relationship in your UpHabit app. These notes will come in handy every time you connect with them.

4. Complete your Social Media Profiles

Without the ability to interact with others face-to-face, our online presence has become ever more important. Leadership and workplace writer Anne Fisher suggests updating and expanding your LinkedIn and social profiles to build that presence.

Join groups, add experiences, reach out to connections, and provide information on yourself. Make yourself visible. When you sign-up and join networking events, the individuals that have done their homework will have a far better picture of who you are.

Making sure you have your contacts’ social profiles saved in UpHabit can also help you engage more frequently and keep everything in one place. Social media can help your initial connection, but continued, constant communication is key to developing real relationships.

5. Networking doesn’t end when the event ends

Just like any networking event, whether virtual or in-person, following-up and truly connecting with new contacts is crucial. During the event or conference, make sure you get contact information, whether it be email, phone number, or social profiles.

Hannah Morgan, a job search strategist, explains a variety of ways this information can be used to strengthen your new relationship. Making sure you set time aside to skim your LinkedIn, reshare and comment on posts, and message your connections, is time well spent.

Setting up additional video or phone calls will also allow for better one-on-one conversations and develop your connection. Or, interacting with them on social media by liking, commenting, and resharing their posts will show your willingness to connect.

Stay on top of all your calls, events, and relationships using UpHabit’s Reminders feature. Choose preset or custom intervals to remind you to keep in touch with all your new and old contacts.

With virtual networking becoming a norm, it’s time to embrace it as an effective way to build contacts and maintain our relationships. Virtual networking events can be a valuable tool when properly leveraged. Using these simple tips and tricks, you can make the most of your next event.

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