We’ve all come to accept that the holiday season is going to look a little different this year. There won’t be any blowout office Christmas parties, and your dream of watching the big ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve will have to remain just that for another year.
While many of us won’t be getting together in person this season, there are still plenty of ways to connect with your family, friends and – yes – even business associates. In fact, there are even a few benefits to virtual networking events.
Save Time – you don’t have to commute, you only have to primp from your shoulders up and – get this – you control the lighting! Let’s face it, sitting in front of your laptop saves you tons of time from start to finish compared to traditional networking events.
Find More Opportunities – in-person events can be great, don’t get me wrong, but how many times have you had a scheduling conflict arise? Perhaps you want to attend two panels that are both scheduled at 1 o’clock, or your keynote luncheon just got interrupted by a lunchtime meeting request. Virtual conferences and networking events harness the power of technology to allow you to jump from meeting to meeting, or to catch a recording of a coveted session you can’t attend due to your packed schedule. Plus, even though a Zoom meeting may run long, you’re never literally running from place to place to catch your next appointment!
Create Positive Impressions – what’s a good networking event without a few surprises? Unfortunately, running into someone who turns a chance encounter into an impromptu business presentation is never a fun thing. And what if that person is a prospective client and wants a presentation from you? These chance encounters are a moot point when the meeting’s digital. That’s because agendas, meetings and even emails reveal who you’ll be talking to, about what and at what time. Even a last-minute email allows you some time to research the client and create a strategy before their face appears on the screen. Use the internet to your advantage and never be caught off guard again, thanks to digital meetings!
Now that you know why virtual networking events can give you a leg up, let’s focus on how you can maximize these digital activities:
Sounds simple enough, right? Email isn’t just for sending networking invites – it can be the entire digital networking experience! Think about it, a simple “thinking of you,” “congratulations” or “are you trying out any new holiday traditions this year?” opens up a virtual dialogue.
The easiest way to engage prospects over email is to show what’s in it for them. This is where your astute knowledge of your business strengths comes in handy. As a loan advisor, do clients get personalized service, 24/7 communication, educational newsletters or a compelling social media account to follow? Whatever your value is, express it through email.
Most people think of job searching when they think about LinkedIn, but this platform is so much more than that. It’s the premier professional networking platform, and that’s exactly what it should be used for. Post relevant news and updates, comment on colleague’s statuses and connect to mortgage industry changemakers all from the comfort of your phone or laptop.
If you’ve taken the above tip on email to heart, then you know you can utilize this strategy on LinkedIn as well. Request to connect with new contacts, but make sure to include a personalized message that lets them know you’ve done your homework and are willing to demonstrate your added value.
The internet is full of mortgage industry groups – you just need to know where to find them. Aside from the professional organizations, sites like Slack, Facebook and Reddit are great places to find and connect with other mortgage insiders.
All you have to do is search for terms like “mortgage industry,” “loan officer” or “loan advisor” if you’re looking for colleagues, or “realtor,” “interior designer” or “architect” if you’re on the hunt for referral partners.
Now that most communication is virtual, you have more flexibility to commit to digital networking events. So make it a point to say yes whenever you can (hint: that’s more often than you think). Sign up for webinars, listen to podcasts, have a virtual power lunch with strangers, connect with clients – both old and new – over Zoom.
Try to mix your schedule up by balancing the number of passive events (i.e. a listen-only podcast or webinar) with those that require active participation (i.e. speed networking). You should also vary the size of events you attend. Aim for a few larger-scale events mixed in with more intimate one-on-one virtual meetings.
The new normal may be here for a while. Plus, chances are high we’ll still rely on these tech tools of the trade even after in-person events resume. So familiarize yourself with these tools, then take advantage of them to the best of your abilities!