Networking Tips During COVID-19
Consulting is a relationship business. Yes, specific knowledge of business processes, government regulations, software, hardware, management principles and the like are vital to adding value to clients. Additionally, interpersonal relationships and understanding your clients' needs as individuals as well as organizationally is paramount to providing value. Part of this value that is delivered to clients is through a consultant's professional network, meaning having the right connections to introduce to the business at the appropriate time for specific instances that require a measure of expertise.
If you are anything like me, you've invested a good amount of time in networking so you can provide value to those which you serve through your network. This has likely included conferences and meet-and-greets, spending time with community and user groups, or attending business dinners or sporting events as a group. The challenge for the last several months is that many of these things are no longer possible due to the novel Coronavirus and the restrictions and sensibility that surround in-person meetings.
The vast majority of us have been working from home, but that does not mean that networking is put on hold. Whether you are in consulting or another field, here are some ways I've identified to keep a professional network functional and growing during COVID-19:
User groups, such as those for ERP software such as Microsoft Dynamics (D365UG), NetSuite (NetSuite User Group), and Acumatica (AUG) are alive and well, holding meetings online through local chapters. A quick search using those names and your location will provide the information needed to find your local group and the scheduled meetings
Community, business, or service organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary International also have taken to online meetings on the local level
Webinars are a great way to get introduced to solutions, trends, and regulations. By following organizations and companies of interest in your LinkedIn feed, you will see notices of these web-based meetings. Attend those and introduce yourself to the hosts by a LinkedIn connection afterwards. Following up with a 1-on-1 call to introduce yourself is often welcomed
Reach out to people in your existing network and schedule a "catch-up" call. I have done a number of these in recent weeks and not only is it generally a convenient time for people to engage in such a touch-base, but also it is great to hear what people have been up to lately
Seek out volunteer organizations. Many of these organizations need help more than ever during these times. Reach out and see how you can get involved. Not only will you help a great cause, but also you will meet some great people along the way
Eventually things will migrate back to the way we used to do things, but not completely. The tools we have become accustomed to during COVID will continue to be utilized as a wider audience has accepted these models and they will continue to be used. Embracing these formats is good for the present and the long term. Stay safe!
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