Nominee for "2020 Contributor of the Year - Women in Tech." I write about modern culture.
For job seekers, virtual networking has provided more opportunities to attend company-sponsored networking events as well as those organized by other professional groups. Typically, the format of each networking event is decided by the host and communicated to the participants prior to the event. For example, a virtual networking event may start with a panel of speakers or a presentation. Then there is time when participants will be able to meet each other one-on-one or in a small group.
Just like IRL networking events, everyone will come with their own agenda. However, with virtual events, you may be assigned randomly to speak with people you would never meet in real life. You can do a quick Google Search on the new person or they may even drop their LinkedIn profile in the meeting’s chat so that you can learn more about their professional background.
How to network with different types of people will depend on your goals and ambitions. If you find yourself mingling with one of these types of people at your upcoming events, follow these networking tips:
Never a dull moment when the Random appears on your screen. From a wizard to a paid extra, you’ll be surprised at how many directions a conversation can take. One thing is for sure, there is a very small chance you’ll ever see or hear from the Random again.
How to network: Your number one objective in conversations with the Random is not to take things too seriously. The truth is that sometimes there are seat fillers (or screen fillers) that will attend certain events to build the audience. Go with the flow and move on.
This person excels at enthusiasm and is eager to let you know that they are new to virtual networking. Newbies come in all ages and how they found out about the event will be a story in and of itself. They might be eager to share a lot, which might limit your time to speak.
How to network: A key networking tip is to ask the Newbie specifically what is one thing they need and offer one thing you need to preserve the balance. Keeping the conversation at a high level will also allow for potential follow-up discussions, if merited.
From products to pyramid schemes, it’s not hard to spot the Salesperson. Their agenda is obvious and they may have a product on hand to show you. They’ve perfected the art of pitching a solution to a problem. And, that problem probably isn’t one that you have.
How to network: To manage expectations during networking, ask who the Salesperson’s ideal customer is. Don’t be shy to add to the conversation any past experience with that type of customer. Then follow up with who you are looking to meet now.
The Professional knows how to network whether it’s in IRL or virtually. Straightforward, direct communication during your time together will include a reciprocated dialogue. If you like efficient and mutually beneficial exchanges, this person is one to learn from.
How to network: To continue the conversation with the Professional, ask for advice on connecting with your ideal job. They might or might not offer an intro to that type of organization, but always be respectful by offering an intro you can make easily if they do.
Depending on what type of networking event it is, the Friend might show up as someone you have both personal and professional values in common with. This conversation will center on shared experiences and stories that you’ll both relate to.
How to network: To further develop the bond, schedule time to have a virtual coffee. Discuss ways on how you can help each other. It could be a resume review or an introduction to build your network. Definitely think about the next networking event you will attend together.
Originally published behind a paywall here: https://medium.com/@LBLewisAuthor/5-types-of-people-at-virtual-networking-events-and-how-to-network-35a385cea9f0