Full disclosure- the primary reason businesses join our chamber is to get to know other businesses so they can build up their network and ultimately grow their business. While online platforms are definitely a critical piece of the marketing strategy for all businesses to gain the exposure they need to become profitable, relationship marketing is the cornerstone. But how do you network during a pandemic? Is that even possible? Here are some great tips for virtual networking, borrowed from Tianna Lucas, MBA, Lipscomb College of Business:
- Stay connected
Use your network to remain current with the pandemic and its impact on your community, business and the economy. Be mindful that everyone is impacted differently and use this opportunity to be of service to new and more established contacts.
- Prepare for the Conversation
Before you talk to a new connection make sure you: connect on LinkedIn with a personal message, review their profile, and look for common areas of interest.
- Be Organized
Making connections via dynamic online platforms like LinkedIn or chamber directories is great but keep a spreadsheet to keep it all organized and tracked correctly. Items to note: the date, source of communication, name and email address, role and company, how you were connected, outcomes of the conversation, next steps, key learnings and new resources you were introduced to. As we get back to exchanging business cards use a portable business card holder to house newly made contacts, make notes right on the card to help you pay it forward in the future.
- Genuinely Ask
Be sure to reach out and ask your contacts how you can help them right now. The conversation will usually redirect into a deeper level that will ultimately build a stronger relationship
Use this time to reach out to contacts that you haven’t spoken to in a while. Touch base with colleagues from a job or two ago and inquire about their current circumstances.
- Follow Up
Send an email, LinkedIn message, or a card of appreciation for those that have helped you along your path.
- Nurture the relationship
Building a network takes time and effort as well as patience, not every conversation develops into a mutually beneficial connection right away. But there are steps that you can take in a virtual environment to increase the likelihood that it will: Comment/Like a post of a connection noting an achievement, keep engaged on college alumni networks, endorse someone with a personal statement about a shared experience, forward or share a link to an article or upcoming webinar.
Every crisis has its opportunities, don’t neglect this opportunity to develop stronger relationships in both your business and personal life. Our Chamber of Commerce team is working hard each day to provide the perfect environment for you to foster genuine relationships within our business community. Please visit www.springhillchamber.com to view our event calendar and sign up for an event designed with your business in mind. Reach out to us today to see how we can help you maximize this opportunity to virtually connect and grow your business!
- Rebecca Melton, Executive Director, Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce