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Top 5 Tips for Online Speed Networking Success

May 25, 2016

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Attending a networking event can bring about a range of feelings. Some people find it fun and can start up a conversation with the first person they meet, while others skirt the edges of the room waiting for someone to come talk with them.

The advent of social media has taken networking to another level, but this simple truth remains: effective networking can provide you with new connections, advice and opportunities to advance your career.

AmeriCorps Alums is committed to connecting national service alumni to the people, ideas, and resources that support a lifetime of service. Our first-ever Virtual Speed Networking event on June 1, 2016 from 8-9:30 p.m. EDT is an opportunity for alumni and currently serving members to virtually connect and discuss topics that are important to them.

Online speed networking removes some of the fear and anxiety that comes with in-person networking events but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare. Below, are our top five tips for online networking event success.

 

1. Set Personal Goals

Before you sit at your computer to chat with other participants from across the country, you need to ask yourself a few questions. Why are you attending? What do you hope to accomplish? How will you measure your success at the event?

Writing down two or three goals will help you stay focused during the event. The goal could be to have at least five chats, exchange contact info with two people or even respond on the discussion feed of topics that are interesting. It’s easy to go off on a tangent during a conversation and realize you haven’t really talked about anything meaningful. Don’t let this be you. You are better than tangents.

2. Prepare Your “Elevator Speech”

Once your goals for the event are set, prepare a short, typed “elevator speech.” This will serve as an introduction to who you are, what you do, and what you hope to accomplish. Since it is typed, you will be able to easily copy and paste the text into your live one-on-one chat.

If you’re having trouble thinking of your short introduction, try using this template:

Hi, my name is (Your Name). I served in (AmeriCorps Program/Year). I’m interested in (your career interests or passion), and currently work as (insert role) at (insert current company).

You can modify the template to better represent who you are but it helps to have something typed to get the conversation started. After the intro is out of the way, you can focus on reading the chats sent to you and responding to your connection.

 

3. Keep it Classy

Online speed networking removes the risk of revealing something embarrassing because you had one too many drinks. But even with the absence of alcohol, you can still get distracted by the latest episode of Game of Thrones, the pot boiling on the stove, or a pet that just can’t sit still. Removing potential distractions before the event and avoiding multi-tasking during the event will help you respond quickly to the person you connect with and ultimately make the most of your chats.

Other ways to keep your conversations classy are avoiding profanity, showing a genuine interest in the conversation and being authentic.

 

4. Watch the Clock

Speed networking events pass by faster than you think. An 8- to 10-minute chat window can fly by faster that the flip of a coin. Keeping an eye on the clock will allow you to have meaningful conversations without feeling like you’ve been cut short. Leave at least one minute at the end of your chat to say thank you and exchange contact information. (Hint: have this pre-typed so you can paste it into the chat.)

If you’re new to online speed networking, the first chat may be an adjustment, but you’ll get into the swing of things by the second or third chat.

 

5. Follow-Up is Key

Hopefully you’ll feel like a networking pro by the end of the networking event. If you had a great connection with someone and exchanged contact information, reach out to them as soon as possible after the event.

Your follow-up doesn’t have to include a big expectation of follow-through from the person you just met. In other words, don’t ask for the cure for cancer. It’s a good idea to hold off asking for help getting a job right away too. Networking is about more than job-searching, it’s about building connections, finding mentors, and learning from others. So don’t be afraid to keep it simple and leave it at, “let’s talk more.” You might be surprised by where these future conversations lead.

Click here to register for Virtual Speed Networking with AmeriCorps Alums.

 

headshot_vanecia_newVanecia Thompson Full Bio: Vanecia is a creative communicator with a passion for service, youth and non-profits. She graduated from The University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a New Media Certificate. After UGA, Vanecia served in AmeriCorps with Teach For America from 2013-2015 in Jacksonville, FL, as an elementary math and science teacher. Prior to joining the Alums team, she was a freelance writer and program coordinator for Usher’s New Look, a youth based non-profit. Vanecia enjoys art, photography, basketball and college football and brings a philosophy to “make something work, then make it work better” to everything she does.

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