During the past few years, I’ve heard it over and over again, “you can’t network as well on Zoom as you can in person”.
My response: yes and no.
The reality is virtual networking is not going away anytime soon. So let’s discuss how to best … Work the Zoom Room.
Why did you pick that event in the first place?
It’s easy to virtually jump in and out of events. At times a little too easy. Too often we’re not taking the time to determine if the event we’re attending is really a match.
So let’s start there. What is YOUR criteria for attending an event? Yes, some are required! And at those, you can still make the most of it.
If it’s not required, here are a few questions to consider:
- Would you attend if it was in person?
- What is appealing about the event - speaker, topic, time of day?
- Will you be focused on the Zoom Meeting or will you be multitasking - be as honest as you can!
- What other commitments are competing with that time?
Create some ‘copy and paste’ copy
Use Apple Notes, Google Docs, Word, Evernote, or some text application to create some content you can ‘copy and paste’ in the chat.
OR … add some useful info to the chat such as:
Notice that I add lines so it’s cleaner for people to read the info in the chat.
So you’re going > now what?
Alright … the event has passed the test, and you’re going (for this article, I am going to assume you are attending and not hosting).
Before you join …
Ideally (and yes, that isn’t always the case), give yourself 5-10 minutes ahead of the event to:
- Review the agenda
- Draft a 2-3 line intro that you can paste into the chat
- Look up LinkedIn profiles of the speakers/hosts
- Grab some water
- Glance in the mirror to be sure you don’t have spinach in your teeth
- Use the Zoom App (vs using the web link)*
- Jump on a few minutes early even if you get placed in the waiting room
When you get into the meeting
Take a moment to say hello to the host and other participants. If it’s your first time there, introduce yourself and thank them for having the event. Here are some other tips:
- Rename yourself: I typically add something about myself after my name that is pertinent. Perhaps where I’m Zooming in from. This provides a conversation starter for others in the Zoom room.
- Move the speakers/hosts: You can hover over someone’s square and “grab” their box and move them around. I find it helpful to move the speakers/hosts to the top row.
- Look at the chat, however, wait a bit to get a sense of what the format is. Some groups are fine with a bit of a sales pitch. I don’t tend to do that.
- Ask a question in the chat: Where are people from? What’s the weather like in your area? As a host, I often have a question to lighten things up such as - are you a dog or cat person … and invite people to put it in the chat.
As the meeting gets going, be aware of what you look like on camera. If you decide to turn your video off (this is where it matters if you’ve logged in using the app or just clicked the web invite) your name or the name of your device will appear. If you log in with the Zoom App and you’ve uploaded a photo to your profile, your photo will appear.
I take several screenshots of the entire group which helps me remember who people are. I can also use that as a way to remember who to invite to LinkedIn or what I said I would owe someone.
You’d take notes in an in-person meeting, the same is true for a virtual one (even if it’s recorded).
Several options here … handwritten notes are known to be the best as far as retention and the kinesthetic aspect of writing. The challenge is I often can’t find them - I have too many notes (that’s a separate topic mind you).
For digital note-taking, you can use your iPad and write there. It does mean you need an iPad.
Evernote is one of my favorites. Here’s why … I connect it to my calendar and it pre-formats a meeting template. There are bullets for the notes and open circles for the tasks that need to get done.
Phew - the Zoom is over > now the follow-up begins
Yes, however, the follow-up is just beginning. While things are fresh in your mind, write down what you owe people (ideally you did that in Evernote). Then come up with a plan to actually do all that.
Recap and reflections
While there is something ‘lost’ when networking on Zoom (or any other platform), there are other things to be gained (including no shoes, no traffic, and more).
- Prepare for just a few minutes
- Attend with an open mind
- Participate as much as you can
- Follow up with your promises
That’s it for now … more soon!