From Chapter 6 or our New Book on Virtual Networking
“There are no great people in this world, only great challenges which ordinary people rise to meet-”William Frederick Halsey, Jr.
Did you ever notice that the most approachable people are the ones who have attained great successes themselves? They seem so open, willing to talk with you and listen to you. Did you ever notice the “let’s pretend I am important” people are not really that important after all?
A good friend of mine is an extremely successful entrepreneur. He’s earned a three-time Inc. Top 500 listing, took his company public, made a great deal of money, and he’s continued to build more companies. Some worked, some did not. He has had great success and could be classified as a “serial” entrepreneur.
Yet if you met him at a networking event, you would find that he was one of the most approachable people there. If you went up to him, he would begin talking with you, making you totally comfortable. In fact, if he knew you were a newcomer to the group, he would try his best to help you meet people.
The above quotes are from my book, “The Manny Ways of Networking Successfully, Too.” They are all very applicable when it comes to live in-person events. But now, we are in a virtual environment where you have to be approachable, either through a social media channel or an online event. So what do you have to do to be approachable?
What are some of the straightforward things that we can start with to get you to the point where people will ask to connect and have a conversation with you?
First, get a great picture of you. This could end up being one of your greatest assets, get the right picture of you to be used everywhere you appear. It was much easier when life was normal; people meet you in person and got what they saw. But now, in the virtual world, who knows where they found you and what that picture looked like. Make sure you have the good stuff out there. You cannot replace it all, but you can replace much. Always put a smile on your face.
Second, make sure the words are the right phrases so people can glance and get a great feel for what you do. There are some simple rules on every platform. You can Google to find out the best ways to put a profile description together. It is worth the expense, but also remember that simple is the best solution. I got my greatest help from someone who said, “Forget all that fancy stuff. This is what I do; I coach executives in the concert industry, and I do it very well.” I listened.
We have learned that it is easy to walk up in a live environment and start talking with a person who smiles at you. It makes you feel comfortable from the start. The same applies online, but there should be a smile on that picture. The key here is to get a professional picture done. Pay someone who is really good, or connect with me if you need a referral. My friend, Eli, is a wizard and can do amazing stuff with your pictures. Many times, people do not even read the text until they get by the picture. It is worth the investment. It is required.
Third, make eye contact. Again, when life was normal, this is so much easier. I always tell people to look and remember the color of someone’s eyes. But what do you do in a virtual environment?
The key here is to look at the webcam. So many people just don’t get it. When you talk online, you have no idea what they are looking at. It is easier for me because I have a MacBook Pro, and I just look at the green light.
But when you hook up multiple monitors and start sliding stuff around, you can come across as being out there in the world, someplace, but we are not sure where. Look at the camera. It does make a big difference.
Unlike the live/physical networking events where you have to approach people or wait for them to approach you, you are thrown into rooms in the virtual world, so it is a little easier. I know that still might make some of you nervous, but life goes on. Each person usually has the opportunity to talk about themselves and share, then we move on to the next person.
Hint: I have been doing this for many years, and still – I get butterflies. It is perfectly natural. Just like when I was in the USMC, and we had to cross a bridge. The mission was on the other side, and it didn’t matter what we thought. It was time to cross the bridge. Just do it.
The next opportunity you could get in a virtual environment is the opportunity to do a 1v1 in a room all by yourselves, or perhaps you have set up a follow-up call.
Remember that relationships start by taking time to learn about the other person. Make sure you ask questions and take time to learn, and not just talk about yourself.
The key to remember is that networking is not for the shy, but virtual networking is a bit easier because so much of it is done for you. But still, just like in all networkings, you have to be willing to be rejected. Rejection is ok; it is not personal. The good thing is that, at virtual networking events, no one is going to just turn you off and be rude because most stuff is done in a group environment. You are not the shyest person there, and most people are open to meeting new people.
Can people be rude, and can rejection happen? Yes, it can happen, but you cannot hold back on the off chance that it will. You are at the event to start to build new relationships that will benefit you and help you move forward.
In the future, we will talk about selecting the right events to go to. But in this case, it is enough to say that now I try to stay away from certain organizations that I know will not have the right people. Even with that attitude, you never know who you can run into. If you can do business anywhere in the world, this new networking approach is amazing.
Point to remember: To be approachable, you have to have the right picture and the right words. Take some time to put them together, and you will be amazed at the results.