My guest on Monday 7th December 2020’s livestream was Kirsty James. Kirsty is well known in the Cheshire area as the energetic owner of Colony Networking. She has 14 years of networking experience and lives and breathes helping others become better networkers. Behind every idea, service or product, there’s a person behind it and she excels at connecting people to ultimately provide solutions.
When she’s not hosting networking events in her usual enthusiastic style or supporting others with their networking skills, strategies and business development planning, she also runs Lymm Business Centre – a place for hot desking and holding business events. Again, a place for people to connect.
Kirsty spent half an hour with me talking about the new networking mix that has been forced upon us: face to face, online and social media. To bring this blog to life, we’ve got inside Kirsty’s brilliant mind to delve deeper into what that actually means for us in 2021 and beyond.
Dare we mention networking in 2020?
It would be an understatement to say that the coronavirus pandemic caused disruption to our networking plans. It quite literally stopped them in their tracks.
Kirsty, like many others, got creative to find a solution. As face to face networking events were not a possibility for some considerable amount of time, there had to be other ways – and there are!
Why face to face networking will be back: the 1st dimension
Meeting people in person is always going to be the best way to nurture and fast track a relationship and create robust connections. It sets the foundation for what is likely to be a strong bond. Kirsty says, and I think we can all relate to this, when you meet someone you can look them in the eyes and see their body language, this is not possible when you speak to someone online. Meeting someone just once is as effective as 10 online interactions!
Using social media to complement networking and to maintain connections: the 2nd dimension
Engaging social media posts keeps you visible and puts your brand at the front of people’s minds. Be consistent with your brand message – the same messages you speak about when you’re networking.
Before the pandemic struck many of us had found the perfect routine, we knew what to say to our followers and when to post. But, all that has been tossed aside, we now need to reconsider when our customers or potential customers are going to be online, what will be impacting on their day and whether they need to hear something different from you – maybe they just need more support.
Lights, camera, action: the new 3rd dimension
Yes, I’m referring to online meetings. It quite literally is about getting the lighting right so people can see your face, making sure that the camera is on and getting yourself ready for action! It was weird at first, seeing yourself in a little box on the screen, very reminiscent of Celebrity Squares.
Thank goodness for technology allowing us to reconnect, but that’s not the biggest challenge we have had to overcome:
- There was the upskilling and learning how to use the new video conferencing technology.
- It was nerve-wracking for some knowing that having their face on screen all the time meant they were being looked at – there’s no hiding at the back of a room!
- We saw an increase in the amount of people saying that they felt that they were suffering from Imposter Syndrome.
- Speaking into your screen relaying your introduction may feel odd and a little uncomfortable.
- Etiquette seemed to lack as attendees walk off, look at phone or clearly multi-tasking.
- Zoom fatigue became a reality! Kirsty recommends walking and talking as a wonderful alternative.
But let’s take a moment to think about the three huge positives online networking has brought us:
- We can now connect with more people
- We can network with others outside of our usual geographic boundaries
- It’s put us all on a level playing field
With these positives, online networking will remain. We just need to work out a way to create the right balance of face to face and online for ourselves. It’s OK to prefer one over the other, but you must never neglect one over the other.
Blending for complete social networking
Throughout the livestream, Kirsty speaks of ‘blending’. The future of networking has changed and online networking is here to stay. Kirsty says that we should blend all three dimensions and marry them together to reflect our brand in a consistent way.
The heart of networking has stayed the same
There are three underlying elements of networking which Kirsty refers to as KLT:
- Get known
- Be liked
- Build trust
All three networking dimensions can help you achieve all three.
Kirsty’s Top Networking Tips: the moment you’ve been waiting for!
Ok, so now we’ve gone over how things have changed and taken a good look at what we need to be thinking about going forward, here are Kirsty’s top tips!
- Have social profile consistency. Be consistent with your name (use your real name!) and messaging across all networking dimensions.
- Use the same photo for all of your social media accounts, zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, WebEx and WhatsApp and have the same header/bio. Be recognisable everywhere.
- Remind yourself of the Kipling Method: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.
Before the event (face to face or online):
- Rule number one. Always prepare
- Find the right networking group that matches your objectives.
- Know your WHY. Why are you networking? Are you looking for sales, looking for business, in search of emotional support, wanting to learn or share your ideas? There’s no right or wrong answer, we all network for different reasons.
- WHO are you looking to connect with? Customers, peers, suppliers, partners, collaborators – the list is endless.
- WHAT is it you want to tell them?
- WHERE will they be?
- WHEN do I speak to them?
- Nail your introduction, or your elevator pitch. Only by knowing your WHY, WHO and WHAT can you really make the right impression with the right people. Find out how long you need to speak for too.
- It’s good practice to have a few versions of your introduction/elevator pitch too to match your needs and who is in the room/online – this is known as adaptive pitching. To make your life so much easier when networking online, have your introductions/pitches already typed up and saved on your desktop – choose the right version for the event and paste it in. Honestly, this is a game changer – try it!
- Work on the rest of your networking material. Knowing what you want to say and how you can adapt it if necessary, will give you confidence, competence and what you share will hit the right notes.
- For all online meetings check what’s behind you and get your background right. And for extra peace of mind why not ask a family member to do a test run with you just so you know that the mic and camera are working.
- Have multiple stories up your sleeve so you always have something relevant to say to your audience.
Before posting on social media:
- Use the Kipling Method as detailed above for all social media too to drive your messages to the right audience at the right time.
- Think about what has changed for your target audience. Have they had to take on additional responsibilities? Have their problems shifted? Are they looking to be sold to? Do they need more advice and support? Really take your time over this and readjust the content of your posts and the time of day you send them.
During the event (face to face or online):
- Know that your aim is to connect, be noticed and to be remembered.
- Wear something bright so people remember you. Don’t be afraid to stand out!
- Listen! Understand what the person you are talking to is saying and be ready to adapt your response to suit not just your why and who, but their why and who too.
- Ask questions, everyone will see who is asking the question and take a look at your name and where you’re from. This simple act will get you noticed.
- Never dismiss someone who doesn’t appear to be your exact WHO – they may know just the person and be able to refer them to you.
- When online do as you would in a physical room – survey and assess who is there. Throughout the event take screengrabs (not for sharing) to remember who was online and who was talking about what.
- Achieve KLT: be known, be liked and be trusted.
After the event:
- Follow up!
- Send LinkedIn requests and connect on any other relevant social media platform. Top tip: back up your LinkedIn!
- Manage your contacts – know why you want to connect with them.
- Find the other attendees’ social media business pages and like them.
- Find the relevant hashtags to follow.
- Use social media to keep in touch. This is crucial for building trust.
- Send an email to anyone you would like to meet up with or chat further. This is a sure-fire way to fast track relationships.
- Ask if they want to receive your newsletter or become a contact on your database for future correspondence.
- Value and protect these customers and their data.
- Look over your screengrabs to remind yourself of everybody who was there.
- Pay it forward – tag your connections to a post relevant to something you were both talking about. Make them feel good!
If you want your Networking to be tip top check have a read of my blog about integrating your branding and making sure your look is consistent. Even while Networking!
For more support from Kirsty
Kirsty offers a number of valuable networking services and events.. Head over to her website and see how she can support you and get you networking confidently and competently! To arrange a free intro chat and to obtain an info pack with resources and event and services information, contact Kirsty via LinkedIn or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s coming up next for Becs, Social Media Executive?
I’m running a LinkedIn workshop starting on 26th January 2021. It will run over four days for just one hour a day. Over the four days I will teach you how to stay in touch with your customers, grow your professional network and build relationships with potential customers. Book now using this link: LinkedIn Workshop January 2021.
Bye for now,
Becs Bate, Social Media Executive