(From the October 2020 Edition of eFORUM)
By Andy and Mia Torr
These days, it’s more difficult than ever to build trust with new networking contacts. If you’re attending online events, it’s hard to stand out from all the other “talking heads” and make a real impression. If you’re attending events in person, it’s even harder to cut through all the anxiety and suspicion that everyone seems to feel.
So how does one build trust with new contacts in the “new normal”?
Online events are a great way to make new contacts in your city, and beyond. The relationships you build online can be powerful and productive. Here are a few pointers to help you succeed in online networking:
- Don’t spam the chat box with your contact info. This makes people feel like you’re selling to them. Instead, comment thoughtfully and offer value throughout the meeting. Then, give out your contact info when invited by the host, or privately (and with permission) to contacts you make in the meeting.
- Be curious, and ask questions. Learn as much as you can about your new contacts during the meeting. When you follow up, you’ll be able to reference specific things you talked about. That lets your contacts know that you really listened to them. (Pro tip: Save the chat file before the meeting ends!)
- Stand out by specializing. If you’re meeting a lot of other advisors at online events, you can stand out by specializing in solving a specific problem for a specific type of client. Do you help empty nesters prepare for retirement? Or young couples plan for their child-rearing years? Sharing your specialty and your ideal client will also help others make connections for you.
Even if you live in an area where in-person meetings have resumed, there is often still an expectation of social distancing. If you’re attending an in-person event, or setting up a client meeting, consider their level of comfort — and if you don’t know, ask!
When meeting in person:
- Choose venues that are well ventilated, and avoid meetings in close spaces.
- Wear a mask if it’s expected in your area, and sit a comfortable distance apart.
- Instead of handing out printed materials or business cards, offer a digital option.
These best practices will show your contacts that you have their best interests in mind, and will help build trust quickly.
Mia and Andy Torr are the co-founders of Authentic Networker, an international business community with more than 26,000 members in five countries. Register for our free online networking events at authenticnetworker.com/online.