11 networking tips for the COVID-19 times
by bob hamer - president & founder of Sports business solutions and creator of theclubhouse | April 17, 2020
Right now, during the COVID-19 quarantine, our focus is on both professional AND personal growth. Networking can be a key piece to both of those things. As a society, we are also craving human connection right now more than ever, as many of us transition to a work from home situation where we’re isolated from our families, friends and co-workers. Lastly, people in sports and other industries have more time for networking now than they ever have so it’s important to take advantage of it, whether you’re the one reaching out OR the one taking the call!
We reached out to a couple sports industry professionals to weigh in on networking tips as well (as both of them do this incredibly well): Tamarah Strauss a VP at DKC - a PR Firm in New York, and Brock Hendricks, a Premium Sales Manager at AEG and the STAPLES Center. Here is what they said!
1. Ask for referrals - Do not be afraid to ask people for help networking – your peers have other peers they are connected to and most of the time it’s easy to connect each other over an email
2. Set a goal - Network and connect with new people during this time. Whether it is one person a week or one person a day and through whatever platform it might be on – whether it’s LinkedIn, Twitter, or through another person
3. Get face-to-face (sort of) - Once you’ve been connected, ask to set up a video chat (Zoom, Google, etc.) – It typically works better than a phone call. While we can’t meet in person at this time due to social distancing, a video chat gives you the “virtual facetime” and lets you see reactions during your conversation
4. Be prepared - Make sure to do your homework on the person you’re networking with and where they work – we have great tools and resources for this but it’s important to do your homework and come to the “meeting” prepared
5. Show you care - Remember to ask how the person is REALLY doing when networking – it’s easy to ask the usual how are you question, but in times like these – we are all in this together, so take it one step further and ask them how they are staying positive during this time
6. Find common ground – This goes back to doing your homework. If you know they love to cook, ask them what they are cooking during quarantine. If they went to the same college as you – ask them their best memory…we’re all human and it’s important to establish that upfront
7. Put THEM first - Networking is as simple as this: Do good things FOR good people, without expecting anything in return. Networking is not a “do this for me and I’ll do this for you” situation. It is about being available, present, and helpful if a scenario ever arises where you can be an asset. Think about the feeling you have when someone goes out of their way to show you kindness, you can be on the other side of that. I believe the more you give, the more the world gives you back in return
8. Make an impression - Networking always starts with a smile. Your first impression dictates the rest of your relationship, and when you’re networking, starting your interaction off as open and friendly as you can starts you in the best possible direction. 93% of how people communicate isn't associated with what they say, but rather it’s your body language, your tone, and eye contact. Make sure you’re focused on them and not on other distractions
9. Finish the conversation strong - Remember that the impression you leave on someone is often how they’ll walk away feeling about your team. Leaving a positive imprint during your interactions makes your entire company look good
10. Develop a true relationship - Friendships are often built on common ground, so finding something the two of you have to talk about and how you both break the ice is key. Example: I went to a networking event in downtown LA and met someone in private aviation, it turned out he lived on the same street as my sister in Van Nuys, CA. When he called me a few weeks later, I brought it back up and that started our next conversation back on the right foot again. Finding common ground during a first impression helped me create a positive second impression
11. Be proactive - Right now, during COVID-19 times reach out to five people each week that you’re interested in talking to. Why not?! A lot of people in this world just stumbled upon a large pit of free time. If you’ve ever wondered what someone in marketing, or at a TV station or at an agency’s day-to-day is like…now is the perfect time to ask! Don’t hold back
We hope these tips are helpful for all of you out there and happy networking! Let’s take advantage of the extra time we have now to build solid relationships for the future. Be safe.