Networking in a virtual world

| By:
Corie Leaman

As technology solution providers (TSPs), annual conferences provide a much-needed opportunity to engage with peers, swap business strategies, and draw inspiration for growing a business.

This year, as COVID-19 has quickly taught us, face-to-face time is no longer a given. With business initiatives and growth tactics carrying on as usual, how can we adapt and make use of what’s available to us?

We can and should take advantage of virtual networking opportunities!

The large majority of industry conferences that were scheduled for 2020 have been canceled, postponed, or changed to completely virtual events.

While we may be used to gathering in a ballroom for a keynote address, breaking out into smaller rooms for workshops, or grabbing a coffee or drink with colleagues during happy hours, there’s no reason to write off digital conferences as less valuable.

The fact that many conferences are now digital actually benefits us in a lot of ways. Perhaps we’re able to attend more conferences we’re interested in since travel costs are not a factor. Because sessions are recorded, we may sit in on a greater number of them. And since our schedules may be more open, we can meet with more colleagues than would have been possible in person.

Networking from the comfort of our own homes may also bring in an unexpected advantage—people may feel more comfortable engaging and sharing in conversation without the added pressure of a big social setting. Believe it or not, not everybody loves walking up to industry peers and starting a conversation!

If you find yourself faced with opportunities to network digitally, here are some tips:

  1. Try different types of networking events—like happy hours, coffee dates, or lunch meetings—around different topics so you can vary your experience.
  2. Step outside of your comfort zone. Preparing some questions or conversation starters ahead of time can fill uncomfortable silences and get things moving.
  3. Show your personality. In a recent online event I was watching, the speakers took off their virtual backdrops on the fly and we got a glimpse into their homes. People enjoy seeing your space (just as long as you do a quick check to make sure any trash or mess is out of sight)!
  4. Embrace the chaos! We’re all making the best out of our abnormal situation. Pets, kids, spouses walking by in towels—it only helps to humanize us!

Looking for relevant events that’ll keep you up to date and in the know? Check out these 2020 virtual conferences:

  • IT Nation Explore: A 3-day event that’ll boost your knowledge of ConnectWise products that power your business. This year’s event is fully virtual and free to attend! Register now.
  • ConnectWise Certify Cybersecurity Training: Cybersecurity is more important than ever before. With these trainings, become an expert in security so you can offer the highest levels of protection. Find an upcoming training here.
  • IT Nation Share: An in-depth product training event with tips you can implement immediately to get your business running more smoothly. Learn more here.

Even with all these new opportunities to expand your knowledge and your network, you may be itching to meet with your colleagues in person. You’re not alone. We recently conducted a survey and asked our partners when they would feel comfortable returning to an in-person event, and 28% reported they’d be comfortable with 2-3 months following government approval.

None of us knows what the future holds and we hope to see you all in person as soon as possible. Until then, we’re happy to continue meeting online!

For more resources to help your business grow during COVID-19 and beyond, please visit our business resilience site.