In a time when virtual conference calls, emails, texts, and social media have dominated our personal and professional lives over the past 18 months, there is simply no substitute for in-person connections and collaboration.
The Hampton Roads Chamber takes great pride in being a regional collaborator, and the transition back to in-person events, programs and networking is a vital step in moving the business community and the region forward. The importance and value of business networking cannot be underestimated even in today’s ever-changing world.
Business networking is a skill necessary at all levels of business growth for both individuals and companies alike. A professional’s ability to effectively communicate begins with the first interview, throughout career advancement, and continues through senior executive leadership. While the ability to connect via the written word will always play an important role for any professional, it still accounts for a small percentage of a person’s perception of any given professional. Verbal cues, facial expressions and even a simple handshake makes up the largest percentage of influence in a person’s view of another individual. Those cues simply can’t be matched on an email, video or telephone call.
As we all transition back to in-person networking and business development efforts at the chamber, industry association events, and one-on-one meetings, keep these key points in mind to better position you and your business for future success.
How many times have you sent an email or phone call, only to wait hours, days, weeks or months for a response to an inquiry or request? In-person networking and connections provide an immediate feedback, good or bad. This saves time, energy and avoids misunderstandings.
As a regional collaborator, idea exchange at the chamber is vital to the success of the 757. Anyone who has held a committee meeting via virtual conference can attest to the difficulty of collaborating picture boxes on a computer monitor. Coming together in a group environment is invaluable to the process of fostering and executing initiatives.
Yes, this “old school” tool is still one of the best ways to connect or reconnect with current and potential business partners. The physical act of sharing your business card, the opportunity to make notes about your meeting and conversation, and a printed reminder to send a follow-up note or thank-you are all valuable tools of professional networking and business development.
Establish your brand
We all have our own brand, as both individual professionals and businesses. In-person networking events and programs provide each of us an opportunity to reinforce our brand to those we’re within one-on-one settings and large gatherings. No one tells your story or represents you and your company better than you, and doing so in person is the absolute best way to do so effectively.
Improving emotional intelligence
The importance of emotional intelligence as we return to in-person business cannot be overstated. The ability to navigate the social complexities of your workplace and business interactions are one of the most effective tools as a co-worker, manager, salesperson, or member within any partnership. Being both self and socially aware is a key difference-maker at a time when we’re all finally re-connecting in person each day.
As the song goes, you “don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.” We all realize now how important personal interaction is to connecting and collaborating. The transition may be quicker for some than others, but we’ll all be back together sooner than later. So be prepared, and we’ll see you at the next chamber program.