By Danielle Brody
Meeting other professionals isn’t the same as it used to be, but in some ways, it’s easier than ever. Plus, continuing to network — especially during this time — is good for professional wellness.
Virtual networking allows people to expand their circle wider than before, have meaningful conversations, and stay sharp on industry news and, in 2021, even social skills.
AMA New York recently facilitated this opportunity for members across the country. The chapter hosted its fourth event in its marketing networking virtual happy hour series, “Cocktails in the Greenroom,” on Thursday, April 29, called “A Toast to Health,” with its Houston, Boston, New Jersey, and Madison chapters.
The theme? Health and wellness. Nearly 150 guests discussed their new work-from-home lives, going back to the office, and even trends in healthcare. Here’s why connecting through virtual networking is a healthy practice:
1. You meet new people you might not have met otherwise.
A theme that came up in breakout rooms is that the pandemic — which has led to working from home — has been isolating. One digital healthcare marketer in Texas said she misses seeing her coworkers in person and collaborating. She and her coworkers sometimes work at the same time through a video call.
Joining a networking session, organization related to your hobby, or a virtual happy hour through work can help fill the void of being away from coworkers. Virtual networking also means you can meet more people than usual because it’s often borderless. In addition, the format of breakout sessions and chatting means you can connect with more people in the “room” in multiple ways. You just have to be proactive. In fact, one member at a recent AMA networking event connected with a freelance writer on the chat from Tennessee and hired him for a project.
Virtual networking may seem stuffy, but takeaways don’t only have to be career-related. At virtual networking sessions, especially now, people share helpful self-care tips, remote work hacks (like live remote coworking), interesting hobbies (one member talked about his woodworking passion), inspiring achievements, and more. These stories help build personal relationships, which is what networking is all about.
2. Marketing networking helps you stay on top of industry trends.
Joining a virtual happy hour or virtual networking session leads to meaningful conversations about your industry or area of interest. The day-to-day of your job can leave little free time to take a step back, so make time for networking to hear what else is happening in your field.
At this recent happy hour, it was fascinating to learn about how different companies have been handling marketing during this time. For example, we discussed how healthcare organizations are being more consumer-friendly and transparent than before, as well as the rise of retail healthcare, like CVS expanding its reach and the growth of Urgent Care.
3. You can practice your “elevator pitch.”
Whether you’re attending an event to make new connections, stay sharp, or look for a new job, you need a quick introduction of who you are, what you do, and why you’re there; a.k.a, your “elevator pitch” (see more tips on how to create one here). Distilling and delivering this professional bio can even help you focus on where you want your career to go.
The benefit of a virtual event is that you usually are given the opportunity to speak and actually see yourself and how other people react in real-time. This platform might help you improve your speaking skills for your next virtual presentation or perhaps for in-person networking. Also, depending on what you’re looking for, you never know who you might meet.
Networking is important no matter what, but just because the world isn’t totally back to “normal” yet doesn’t mean you need to stop meeting people. Virtual networking is a healthy way to stay current, connected in your career, and even gain inspiration during difficult times.
Danielle Brody is an associate editor at Insider Studios, the branded content division of Insider, Inc. (publisher of Business Insider). She is the networking events director at AMA New York. She also creates funny doodles. Connect with her on LinkedIn.