While many would argue we’re not quite past the risks posed by the pandemic, most people are educated enough on how to rejoin society. When the COVID-19 virus reared its head in early 2020, it took the world by surprise. But well over a year and a half later, we’ve rapidly increased our knowledge of the virus and how to control its spread. Thus, it’s probably safe to consider how to get back to connecting with your sales network.
Vaccination rates are on the rise, businesses are returning to work, and events are popping up all over the country. Whether you choose to meet with people in person is still solely a matter of your personal risk assessment. Needless to say, the post-pandemic networking scene is going to look different no matter how you slice it.
We’re not here to debate whether people should mix and mingle or stay indoors. We’ve just gathered a few tips together to be sure no matter how you choose to network, you get the most out of it in the safest and most effective way possible. Here’s how you can expect to approach networking in the post-pandemic world:
Face-to-face meetings within your sales network are still best to plan for outdoors whenever possible. Most health experts still recommend social distancing and the CDC currently defines close contact as at least 15 cumulative minutes of exposure to someone within 6 feet in a 24 hour period. And people who are positive for COVID are contagious during the 48 hours prior to their symptoms developing.
This means, for the foreseeable future, close meetings could be out of the equation for most people. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t meet in person. You simply should plan to wear a suitable mask, even if you’re vaccinated and the location doesn’t require it. Of course, you may not consider this step necessary, but as a professional courtesy, you should assume the responsibility of taking everyone’s safety and comfort into consideration.
It’s unnatural to avoid handshakes, but it’s still advised to avoid hand-to-hand contact with people as COVID numbers rise during the approaching cold and flu season. Don’t make it awkward, though. If your sales network contact extends a hand and you feel comfortable accepting their handshake, it’s OK to make this connection. Just remember to pack and use hand sanitizer.
Recommended Reading: Preparing for Networking in Sales as Vaccinations Roll Out
Most health experts would agree that staying digital is still best for everyone. This removes some of the personal connection you’ve come to love about networking in person, but it doesn’t have to make your meetings impersonal.
In this amazing digital age, video messaging has become an effective tool to connect with network contacts and get the face-to-face experience you crave. There is a lot to gain from chatting over a video conferencing app, like Zoom, such as reading body language and catching on to subtle cues missed through email or text messengers.
The key to getting the most out of digital networking is to be as personal as possible in all forms of communication. It’s awkward to connect over video when your LinkedIn messages have been transactional, at best.
Look for opportunities to show your value to your sales network connections and when you connect over video, it will feel more like catching up with an old co-worker or friend, rather than meeting for the first time. That familiarity will allow you to dive into a brief informational interview while catching up instead of wasting time on formalities.
Recommended Reading: Tips to Get the Most Out of Virutal Networking Events
By this point, you may be wondering if it’s worthwhile or even recommended to attend large, in-person networking events. There’s not a simple answer to this question. However, given the circumstances of the last year plus, you can rest assured that event coordinators are taking every precaution when planning networking events.
If you feel comfortable getting out in public, it’s likely better for you to choose events where you can still safely distance, and masks and/or vaccinations are required. Many organizations are hosting events in outdoor arenas or moving their job fairs and conferences virtual.
The upside of opting for virtual attendance is that you have the flexibility to sign up for more seminars and jump into group discussions without having to stress about capacity limitations. You don’t miss out on any of the benefits of the event. You may find it more cost effective to attend virtual events and you don’t have to carve time to travel out of your regular work or family schedule.
Ultimately, no matter how you choose to connect with your sales network in the post-pandemic workworld, you’re going to face some unfamiliar territory. But if you weigh the pros and cons, you may discover adapting to the changes means appreciating the many benefits that come with networking in new ways.