Networking During Webinars
Dec 11, 2020
- Be prepared to focus!
- Make the first move!
- Reach out and connect!
Networking can sound like a nightmare, especially for us introverts. Fortunately, this is one area where 2020 has actually helped us out. With in-person events getting canceled, you can attend conferences, meetings, and professional events from the comfort of your home.
I’ve been attending several webinars a week, and one unexpected benefit was all the connections I’ve made! The first dozen webinars I attended I simply watched, like I was watching a movie, and did not network in a meaningful way. Don’t be like me!
Read on to find out how you can use webinars to build your network.
BEFORE A WEBINAR
- Curate your online presence: Google your name and make sure nothing shocking comes up. If your portfolio is published, make sure the link is working. You’ll be sending connection requests, so polish up your LinkedIn. Do not panic over imperfections. My LinkedIn is presentable, but not perfect. Just get it to the point where it looks professional.
- Find a webinar: Check the social media pages of thought leaders that you follow. Browse the websites of your local professional organizations, like ATD. A couple that I always turn to and enjoy are TLDCast and Devlin Peck’s webinars.
- Prepare for the webinar: Do a few minutes of research on the topic, the host, and the speaker. Jot down some questions you may have. If the webinar is hosted on Crowdcast, you can even view other attendees’ questions and vote for questions you also want answered.
- Get ready to focus: It can be so tempting to get other work done during a webinar, but then you might as well be watching it on YouTube! Create a good workspace by wrapping up other tasks, clearing your desk, and minimizing distractions on your screen. Set yourself up to be fully engaged.
DURING A WEBINAR
- Introduce yourself: Say hi in the chat, and mention your name, your title or industry, and your location. (If the chat is empty - go ahead! Others will follow!) State that you are looking to connect and include a link to your LinkedIn profile.
- Don’t be shy: In smaller webinars, you can often turn your camera on. People are much more likely to connect to and remember a face than a black screen with a name on it.
- Participate: Your fingers should be flying! Ask questions, respond to questions in the chat when you can be helpful (there’s always someone newer than you!), or even just appreciate others for their contributions. If the topic is particularly interesting to you, try asking if others would be interested in forming a small discussion group after the webinar to continue the conversation.
- Remember your hashtags: Larger events often have a social media handle or hashtag. Like, comment, and post during the event. Share a big idea you learned, or a question that came up for you. You can even simply share what you learned from someone else and tag them (and the host, and the organization, and …. You get the idea).
AFTER A WEBINAR
- Connect, connect, connect: Get on LinkedIn and send connection requests thanking the host, any guest speakers, and any moderators. Send connection requests to people you engaged with in the chat. Send connection requests to people who posted thoughtful questions or comments. Send connection requests to people who piqued your curiosity and ask them a question. Send each person a personalized message, and start a conversation.
- Reach out: If you engaged with someone during the webinar and connect with them on social media, reach out and ask if they’d be open to a 20 minute phone chat to continue the conversation. Setting a time limit and eliminating the possibility of video makes this a less demanding ask.
- Make a post: On LinkedIn and other social media, thank the host, guest speakers, and/or organization, and share a big idea you took away from the webinar. Remember to use hashtags related to the event and tag the host, speakers, and anyone you engaged with. Look for similar posts from other attendees and comment!
Networking can be scary and awkward for all of us. It will get less so as you do it more often. Overall, focus on the webinar, don’t be shy, participate, and reach out during and after the event! And if you see me in a webinar chat, say hi!
Written by: Kate Zeis
Connect with Kate on LinkedIn.
Kate is an instructional designer with ten years of experience creating curriculum and instructional materials for learners in Texas, South Korea, and Vietnam. When not reading about learning theory, practicing a new technology, or attending webinars, she enjoys camping, puzzles, and planning her next road trip.