Technology has opened up great opportunities for entrepreneurs, even in the area of networking and networking groups. For example, technology can now be used for efficiently making referrals, especially with the use of a great CRM system such as AddressTwo.
However, when we think of networking meetings, we typically think in terms of meetings in our own area. However, thanks to technology advances we can now participate in virtual networking meetings.
Virtual networking allows a group of individuals from throughout the country, or even world, to join together in a networking meeting. For an entrepreneur that wants to expand their business outside of their physical area, this provides a great opportunity to make new contacts and discover new referral partners.
I’ve been a public speaker for many years and I remember my initial resistance to the tele-class or webinar format for delivering content. I thought I needed to see the faces of my audience to do a good job presenting my programs. It turns out I was wrong. When I first heard about virtual networking, I knew it was a concept that could be effective in the same way that tele-classes or webinars work.
The virtual networking meetings that I’ve been involved with are structured much the same way as local networking meetings, without the open networking time. There’s usually a speaker followed by an opportunity for each person to introduce themselves. During their introduction, a slide is shown on the screen with their contact information, picture and company logo. After the meeting, the participants can schedule one-on-one phone, Google Hangouts or Skype meetings with the others that they want to connect with further.
Right now up to nine people can participate in a video meeting using Google Hangouts; I’m sure the technology will be here soon (if it’s not already) where there can be a virtual networking meeting with a group of 20 people all participating on video. I’m not sure if I’m ready for that – part of what I like about virtual networking is not having to get gussied up!
So how do you get started with virtual networking groups?
Here are a couple of ways:
1. You can approach a national or regional group that you are already a member of and see if they might be open to adding a virtual networking meeting to their schedule. That’s what I did with the Powerful You! Women’s Network virtual meeting that I now facilitate. PS - that’s the risk of having an idea – you may have to back it up with involvement!
2. You can start a virtual networking group on Linked In, Facebook or Google+ and invite people to participate. It will be up to you to decide if you want to charge for the meetings or not. I’ve seen some that are charging $10/meeting to offset the cost of preparing the slides and the conference calling system.
Technology has opened new ways for entrepreneurs to connect with others to grow their business; I encourage you to consider virtual networking as another viable source of networking.
About Pat Altvater:
Pat Altvater is a speaker, consultant and author of Choose Success - Ignite the Power Within and the creator of BizConnect TV. In her books and products, she describes her system for taking charge and creating outcomes desired called the Conscious Transformation Process™.
As an entrepreneur, she opened 10 franchised women's only fitness facilities and took them to profitability within the first year. Currently, as a sales and marketing consultant, she helps entrepreneurs showcase their expertise and extend their influence through the BizConnect TV show host opportunity.