How to Network Online in the Age of Social Distancing

Many people in the UK, United States, Caribbean and across the world have begun working remotely. If they haven’t been furloughed or laid off; schools have canceled classes for weeks; and restaurants, retail stores, bars, gyms, and other gathering places have closed or limited opening hours. Major events were postponed with a domino-like effect, including Carnival here in Jamaica, South by Southwest, and virtually all sporting events, such as the Olympics, NBA, NFL, and Champs.

These closures are all attempts to force social distancing, a crucially important global public health intervention that can help stop transmission of the coronavirus. With COVID-19, many people in the US, UK and the Caribbean will at some point, either this year or next, get exposed to this virus. Social distancing, health authorities confirm, can slow the spreading, helping to ease the burden on our delicate health care structure. Best practices require maintaining at least a six-foot distance between yourself and others.

People were already making home their headquarters As COVID-19 sweeps around the world, the virus could accelerate a trend that was already underway. Even before social distancing, the home was becoming the HQ for busy people

Google Trends

More time at home and less and less real-life human interaction, you may find that people aren’t always sure how to network in the online space. Hashtags like #WFH, #SocialDistancing #FlattenTheCurve and many other coronavirus related hashtags are sweeping the internet. TikTok dance videos and challenges like #DontRushChallenge has also become quite popular.

NETIQUETTE

Just because we are no longer forced to see each other face-to-face, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t practice etiquette or netiquette.

Netiquette means, “ the importance of proper manners and behavior online. In general, netiquette is the set of professional and social etiquettes practiced and advocated in electronic communication over any computer network. Common guidelines include being courteous and precise, and avoiding cyber-bullying.”

Technopedia.com

Just because we’re indoors and many people now have to resort to online communication, the use of WhatsApp, Zoom and social media networks have now become the norm for communicating. Here are my tips to network online that will reap rewards in the long run.

In 2019, WhatsApp reached 2 billion global users and solidified itself as the most popular mobile messaging app worldwide.

Hubspot, How Five Brands Use WhatsApp for Marketing.

HOW TO NETWORK ONLINE

Do your research: Take the time to Google the person’s name and read their bio, so you can understand what their core business is. For example, I’m in marketing so I’m looking for SMEs who need help marketing their business to the ideal customer. I often network with CEOs and Marketing Managers looking to build out their company’s online presence.

Don’t message at odd hours: Just because the internet is open 24 hours a day, doesn’t mean you need to message at 2 am! We do spend time during the day working, so at night we need to destress. Most times if you message people late at night that you don’t already have a personal relationship with, they are not in the frame of mind to do business. Try to message between the hours of 9 am-5 pm.

Master your elevator pitch: Taking a few minutes to write a script, i.e., one to two sentences introducing yourself. Saying what you do saves people’s time and we all know, time equals money. Still practice etiquette by using a greeting. Be as polite as possible.

Try to take the conversation off social media: The quicker you take the conversation offline, the better. Take the time to get the contact’s phone number or email and make plans to set up a Zoom meeting. We live in an online world but most people still like to work with people they know and trust. That often gets lost online. Set up a WhatsApp Business Account, so you never miss a question from a potential client. Being a connection, meaning friends on Facebook or a follower on Instagram or Twitter, doesn’t mean that you are trusted.

SOCIAL PROOF

Social proof is more vital than ever before, that includes your website, social media networks with a headshot and photos describing your personality are crucial to developing a social media footprint.

The website should include:

Bio, short bio, downloadable press kit, approved headshots, and contact information. Here’s the link to my press and media page.

Buy my top Marketing books of all time to help you navigate the online space.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I trust and the income goes to keeping the site up and running.

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