Is Networking Different After The Pandemic?
As the world continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the landscape of networking has evolved dramatically. Gone are the days when we took for granted the bustling energy of crowded local networking events, national conferences, trade shows, and other business events. As people adapted to the new normal, remote networking and virtual events took center stage.
While some have embraced the shift to virtual networking, others have begun to speak out against the decline of face-to-face events. I believe deeply in the importance of human connections in business. As a keynote speaker, I share tips on how to get engaged with others to build a stronger inner circle. I am also a huge proponent of the benefits of joining trade associations and attending industry events. These groups and their in-person events are linked and remain vital for forging meaningful connections.
The Importance of Face-to-Face Networking in a Digital World
The pandemic forced many organizations and individuals to pivot to virtual platforms for networking. While online connections have their merits, there is a growing understanding that nothing can replace the value of face-to-face interactions. The power of human connections lies in our ability to build trust, rapport, and empathy – all of which are difficult to replicate in a virtual setting.
Despite the convenience and cost savings of digital communication, face-to-face networking remains an essential component of establishing and maintaining strong relationships. As the world moves towards a new normal, a balance between virtual and in-person connections is key to successful networking.
Tips for Networking in a Post-Pandemic World
1, Be proactive: As in-person events gradually return, take the initiative to research and attend relevant gatherings in your industry. Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you; instead, create them by seeking out events, seminars, and conferences where you can expand your network.
2. Embrace virtual connections: While face-to-face interactions are invaluable, don’t discount the benefits of virtual networking. Online platforms can help you maintain and grow your network when physical meetings aren’t possible. Use social media, industry forums, and professional networks like LinkedIn to keep in touch with contacts and stay up-to-date with industry trends.
3. Join trade associations: Trade associations offer a wealth of resources and networking opportunities. By joining these organizations, you can connect with like-minded professionals, attend workshops and events, and access valuable industry insights.
4. Prioritize quality over quantity: Focus on forging meaningful connections rather than simply collecting business cards. Build relationships with people who share your values and interests, and invest time and effort in nurturing these connections.
5. Be genuine: Networking should not be a purely transactional exercise. Show genuine interest in others and be open to learning from their experiences. By being authentic, you are more likely to form lasting connections.
The Value of Trade Associations and Industry Events
Trade associations and industry events offer unparalleled opportunities for networking and professional development. These platforms allow you to connect with industry leaders, learn about new trends and innovations, and share your expertise with others. By attending these events and joining trade associations, you can stay ahead of the curve in your field, foster a strong professional network, and enhance your reputation within the industry.
However, some groups have not realized that the atmosphere they create in their events is more important now. People can get information anywhere, and with the addition of AI we can create interactive conversations that help us learn on platforms like ChatGPT. Thus, the learning side of an event is now less relevant and the networking is why people will attend.
As the world navigates a post-pandemic landscape, it is crucial to strike a balance between virtual and face-to-face networking. Human connections remain an integral part of our personal and professional lives, and the ability to adapt and engage in this new environment is essential for success. By proactively seeking out networking opportunities, joining trade associations, and attending industry events, you can continue to grow and strengthen your network – and your career – in the years to come
***Thom Singer is a keynote speaker who helps groups navigate better networking after the pandemic for association and corporate events.