In recent months, it’s been challenging to meet with current contacts, let alone to connect with new ones or network within your industry. But, even though most events have gone online and there are travel restrictions and social distancing to contend with, you can still network!
Want to know how? Read on for some top tips from Talent in Logistics and Samantha Leleu, General Manager at Pertemps Driving Division, sponsor of the virtual networking session at the upcoming Talent in Logistics Awards on 1st October.
1. Be prepared
Make the most of any networking opportunity by being prepared. Think about your ‘elevator pitch’ in advance. The right pitch will make you and the company you are representing stand out to your listener and be interesting, memorable and succinct. It’ll also mean you don’t feel put on the spot when asked the inevitable, ‘So what do you do?’
Also, do your research on who will be attending any meeting or event in question.
“Ask the event organisers for their list of attendees. Sometimes these will be provided, other times they won’t. But if you don’t ask, you won’t get,” says Samantha Leleu.
When doing your research, don’t just focus on which companies will be attending, think on more of a personal note. For example, do you have anything in common with the key people you’d like to meet, such as someone you’ve both worked with in the past?
It’s always best to show that you know your stuff and don’t feel as if you’re out of the loop, so read the company’s recent news, blogs and social media updates.
Even if you go to an in-person event or meeting, sharing business cards may not be a popular move at the moment, so why not connect on LinkedIn instead? A virtual business card that you can include if you’re emailing new contacts is helpful too.
2. Take advantage of industry webinars
Throughout recent months, industry webinars have come into their own. Although time is at a premium, setting aside time for a webinar is largely achievable and enables you to keep up to date with your sector, and also to connect with like-minded individuals who are facing the same industry challenges as you.
“There are many born networkers in this world, but for some, live events and human conversations can be challenging,” says Ruth Edwards, Business Development Director for Talent in Logistics. “For some, webinars are an easier way to interact with key industry figures without instantly plunging yourself into the networking deep-end!”.
Ask questions to show other attendees that you’re present, and what issues matter to you, which helps to position yourself as a key figure within the sector. You could also consider sponsoring a webinar or hosting one of your own with a topic that appeals to those you’re trying to connect with.
3. Think of it as a date!
Dress to impress! You can’t make a first impression twice and if you dress too formal or too casual for the occasion, you’ll end up feeling uncomfortable. This is just as true if you’re on a webcam as if you’re at an event in person.
You might feel nervous if you haven’t previously attending many events but don’t forget to smile…not only will it make you look more approachable but people will see that you’re having a good time and be more likely to make conversation.
“Remember to be engaged,” says Ruth. “Even online you can keep eye contact and demonstrate active listening.”
“Be sure that you don’t dominate the conversation! A conversation is a two-way transaction so be sure to ask lots of questions to find out more about this person and their role,” says Samantha. “Not only will this result in a better conversation, it will be far more memorable for both parties involved.”
4. Get under the same roof as the experts
What better opportunity to network than when your peers and leading industry figures are together? Even though nowadays they will be more likely under the same ‘virtual roof’ rather than in a conference centre!
During the Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses quickly adapted their business operations to include digital events as opposed to physical ones where social distancing proved to be challenging, if not impossible.
“Many events, including our Talent in Logistics Annual Conference, have gone online, but you still get the same chance to see what like-minded people are experiencing, overcoming or succeeding at,” says Ruth. “Hearing how industry experts approach business is always a hugely beneficial experience.”
5. Follow up proactively
The networking event itself is important, but what you do within the following 24 hours is also key.
“Whilst things are fresh in your mind, it’s always a good idea to take a look at the business cards you picked up throughout the day. Make personal notes on them of conversations had or memorable quotes or events discussed to mention when you follow up”, says Samantha. “This will seem much more personal and can go a long way in the future. When doing follow-ups, never forget to thank the event organisers. It’s funny how far a thank you can go when it comes to future events.”
Apply the same practice with your virtual contacts – keep notes and reminders, and send a personalised follow up on email or social media.
6. Enjoy yourself!
During challenging times, enjoyment can seem a lower priority. However, it’s as important as ever to reflect on industry successes and celebrate. That’s why at our upcoming online Talent in Logistics Awards event, Pertemps Driving Division is our partner for a virtual networking session.
Register for free to attend the Talent in Logistics Awards to benefit from a unique online networking opportunity, as well as a whole evening of interaction, positivity, recognition and celebration that honours those in our industry who have worked so hard of late to keep the country running.
The Talent in Logistics Awards are dedicated to recognising and rewarding the people that keep the logistics sector and country, moving every day throughout the whole supply chain, with categories highlighting not only stand-out individuals but the teams and organisations that have gone above and beyond to make real differences.
After the turbulence and challenges of recent months, let’s take the opportunity to celebrate our fantastic logistics sector together! For more information on attending the awards or sponsoring an awards category, visit www.talentinlogistics.co.uk, call 01952 520216 or email email@example.com.