As an extrovert who loves meeting new people, connecting in person to build lasting relationships and attending all kinds of professional events, it has been difficult being unable to do all of that. I’m sure many of you can relate.
During this time, I’ve found solace in a monthly event put on by the Raleigh Chamber called Business After Hours. Since July, this has been the event I look forward to because I know I’m going to meet new people in the Breakout rooms. For the most part, it has been my primary method of networking during Covid. I have met and continue to meet new people through Chamber events. A lifesaver.
I’ve also met new people on a few panels I’ve been on recently, and the connections made there have brought on potential opportunities, opened me up to meeting even more people and expanded my network.
Here’s an example: From a panel I participated on for Merz Aesthetics, I met the lovely Jess Ekstrom of Headbands of Hope, who was a co-panelist. I had seen Jess on a panel at an event the year before and already had a copy of her book, but this time we were on the same side. All of us on that panel made a connection and after our rehearsal for the event, we felt like old friends and promised to stay in touch. Well, Jess and I moved quickly. We had a Google Meet today and it was fantastic. But before that, we’d had several email exchanges, and Jess had even mailed a gift to my home. (See image below) That’s how much we enjoyed one another and knew 100% we needed to connect and fast.
During our Google Meet we talked about our businesses, some personal stuff and shared a lot as we got to know one another. It was like talking to an old friend I didn’t know I had. But you know what else happened? Jess connected me to a friend of hers of whom she believes I may have business synergies, I shared my screen showing her a tactic I use in my newsletter to engage readers that she’d never seen and is going to start using ASAP and share with her coaching clients, AND we booked each other for upcoming events.
Likewise, I met the super smart Amanda Latham of Human Capital Solutions in the virtual networking session of the Raleigh Chamber’s Annual Leadership Conference yesterday and she and I had a strong connection as well. We ended up in a breakout room together twice and were able to discuss some of what we’re working on and what we do. We too recognized synergies, exchanged email addresses and have been communicating back and forth. I even shared with her a new offering I’ve been working on and we believe it complements one of hers. I assure you there is more to come with the two of us.
I shared all of that to drive home a point: If you aren’t using every opportunity to connect with others today as you would were we not in the midst of a pandemic, you are truly missing out. Reach out to people, schedule virtual meet and greets and put yourself out there. We are all missing these connections so chances are they’ll be happy to hear from you. Find ways to meet new people and follow up. Yes, you’ll be expanding your networking but you could also find yourself making new friends.