How to take action and connect your global network, virtually.
As many professionals are isolated at home without the usual events and offline spaces to network, finding ways to network online and generate new business is vital. While many organizations slow down their efforts, there are a small group who are rising up to the occasion, and taking advantage of this vacuum — the connectors.
Connectors are ones that understand our world is now isolated, yet very united. These people are the ones you see dominating the LinkedIn spotlight with engaging content and new marketing formats.
They took on themselves the mission to lead us through this crisis and help maintain networking opportunities to build new relationships and business.
How to connect professionals online?
Until recently, most of us were used to execute such networking activities offline. To convert this to the online world we need to bridge 2 main gaps: the know-how & the how-to gap.
To help you push thought these gaps we collected 9 online networking activities that actually work, and organized them according to the network’s stage and engagement level, so you can easily find your best initiative ideas.
Let’s go into details:
1. Virtual Webinars
This has already became by now the standard so I won’t go into it too much. Webinars is a great way to generate content for your audience. It can be in any relevant topic and include between ideally between 1–4 professionals in a session sharing their knowledge in a structured manner.
Here is a beautiful example of leveraging webinars to not only create value for the community, but also as a way to better connect with current or potential partners as Next Gen HQ x Dell are doing in their live series.
2. Virtual Office Hours
Online video calls made it easy to reach practically anyone around the world at any time, in order to have a quick introduction call, get advice and unlock collaboration or other business opportunities.
Put that together with the basic human need of being meaningful in the world and you’ll find out that the people you aspire to meet yet seemed unreachable until a month ago, are now a click away from you.
As network builders, you have the power and capability to reach out directly to those people who are valuable to your network, and make them accessible by structuring a limited time frame that they can offer your network.
Structuring this process makes it easy for both sides to pre-approve and save a relevant time slot for the occasion without the risk of waisting their time.
ICON is an example of how to utilize a network in such times and help connect individuals to relevant people in a curated way of office hours sessions.
3. Virtual Roundtable Sessions
There are two variables to assess successful online content in the same time frame: level of new knowledge, and number of new connections.
Webinars are one-to-many, allowing us to consume general content with zero networking opportunities. Office hours are providing us super curated content, while growing our network by one person at a time.
Roundtables are, in my opinion, the sweet spot in between. They are built on small groups of about 5–10 people. Thus, allowing them to connect on a deeper level while discussing relevant subjects and curating them on the go. It requires more engagement than the others, but it’s usually worth it for all participants.
4. Personal Introduction
Generate exponential value by allowing your network to see who are the other people you are strongly connected to (not just a random LinkedIn connecting). This taps into the understanding the connection are more valuable when shared with others and can help create mutual opportunities for both sides.
5. Online Mentorship Programs
Mentors have an very important role in our current market.
We all witnessed unemployment percentage skyrocket in the last two months, and there are even more professionals who stayed employed, yet need to do dramatic changes to their work and offerings to keep their business alive.
These quick shifts are very difficult to overcome, and as people are seeking a path to lead them out of this crisis, they need experienced and knowledgeable people to help guide them through.
Network builders can leverage the diversity within their own network (people in different stages of their path) or reach out to external relevant individuals to build mentorship programs that will match the experienced ones with those looking for advice and help.
LIFT is a great example of an online mentorship program led by the W2W organization. They are connecting powerful young women with experienced mentors in their field to help achieve their professional goals.
They are using Clique’s platform to allow scalable value creation, while saving time and effort for all stakeholders.
6. Virtual Think-Tanks
Think tanks requires and build trust between members of your network. These think tanks should have a clear question they are looking to solve using group thinking. They will include a few individuals with different capabilities or backgrounds, some can be experts if needed, and will all come together under the initial mission.
Creative Mornings is a face-to-face community that usually met offline, and now adapted to online hubs where creative people can share their experience and meet other creators within the same local area.
7. Virtual Demo Days & Showcases
A great way to support small business owners, specifically entrepreneurs is to organize online showcase events.
This way you can leverage the wide reach of your collective network and allow the relevant business owners to share their story and help grow their exposure, specifically when there is such overwhelming noise in the market.
Optional tools: Zoom
YC, innovators as they usually are, were fast to react to the situation and converted their demo day into an online session. Thus, allowing them to dramatically increase the exposure reach and boost new portfolio startups.
8. Online Matchmaking
This is a non-obvious activity. It demands a very high level of engagement and trust between you and your network.
Matchmaking events can be executed in a few different ways. One example can be as Brain-dates, where you connect between 2 people who share similar situation or challenge and allow them to know about one another and potentially build small squads to help solve an issue.
Another option is to organize these quick coffee breaks were you can pro actively connect people who have have a potential mutual interest of collaboration.
An Israeli initiative that was fast to act and is connecting between talent looking for a job to employers looking for project based talent. The mission is to use their knowledge, experience and reach to create successful matches.
9. Virtual AMA Sessions
This is the highest level you should aim for. AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions can be very valuable if done in the right settings and stage. These are highly intimate sessions were a few individuals accept to be “investigated” online by the rest of the session participants.
AMA are valuable because they enable knowledge and know how to move faster between people. As we all know, knowledge is power — here you can help accelerate the power being shared.
For the AMA session to be successful, it should be focused on a very clear subject of learning, it should be limited to a number of around 20 participants who have previously built the fundamentals of trust between them.
This is an example of an organization providing AMA sessions through Eventbrite. These sessions can be as basic or as deep as you want them to be. Yet, for each it will require to curate the audience and “environment”.
MVP your way to success
Changing your events or usual workflow can be scary. I’m constantly talking with community managers and ecosystem builders who seem to struggle in doing the first step toward mastering online connectivity opportunities.
As most innovators and entrepreneurs know, the best way to make things moving your way is by starting with an MVP (Minimum Viable Product).
In reference to our subject, it means that you should find your network’s online sweet spots, by testing a few of these options in a small scale to begin with, and than learn, evolve and grow your efforts according to what seems to suits best your audience.
The new world is counting on you.
# If you want to explore more online apps or find creative ways to execute your own activities? Check out Clique’s new App Store for online network-building activities.
# Want to join Clique’s next Roundtable Sessions for Ecosystem Builders to connect with other inspiring global network builders? Register here.
# Have any un-answered question about this subject? Feel free to connect & reach out.