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Virtual Networking Can Help Replace Those Lost Trade Show Connections

Social networking platforms like LinkedIn give you the opportunity to make new connections without the convenience of industry trade shows.

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Virtual Networking Can Help Replace Those Lost Trade Show Connections

Almost overnight, the business world has moved nearly entirely to the internet, with videoconferencing and collaboration solutions powering organizations of all sizes and helping business leaders close deals.

However, many are left wondering how they can generate new leads and replace the extremely valuable networking with industry events, conferences and trade shows canceled. These events are where many in pro AV meet new business partners and strike new deals with manufacturers and end users.

To network in these difficult times, companies should follow the virtual trend and look to social media and business-to-business platforms, says AV integration marketing firm Wheelhouse Digital.

In a video walkthrough, Web Strategist Connor Kane lays out the steps to stay connected with the business community via LinkedIn, which he calls the natural platform for virtual networking.

Optimize your profile

Make sure your LinkedIn profile is professional, and that includes a professional photo. Most people can improve their photo by having someone else take their photo against a nice background that isn’t distracting.

Your tagline — the piece of text that appears under the photo — is also important. It follows you around the platform, appearing anytime you post a comment or send a message. It should offer a concise description of what benefits you can bring to your targeted audience rather than listing your accomplishments like a resume.

Your description is effectively your resume, which should include a detailed summary of your work history and professional background.

Identify your target audience

Kane says companies and individuals using LinkedIn to network should first identify who they want to reach. That includes establishing your company’s goal in reaching out via social networking. Is your goal to generate new leads or establish partnerships?

Narrow down your specific target audience. Do you want to target C-suite level executives, directors or managers? According to LinkedIn, the platform has more than 260 million active monthly users, so you’ll need to narrow down your search if you want to communicate effectively.

In LinkedIn’s premium version, users can filter their searches by position, geographic area to make this process more efficient.

Crafting a message

As you would in a physical environment, start the conversation with a casual message and don’t immediately start pushing your products or services. Provide something of value up front, like a free service or knowledge.

If that goes well, ask for a virtual meeting and have a more in-depth conversation about the possibility of working together.

Keep track of your progress

In a physical setting, remembering a person’s name, role, company and where the conversation left off goes a long way toward closing a deal. The same goes for a virtual setting. Keep track of your progress in a spreadsheet for everyone you connect with.

Be patient

Take your time and refine your messaging and strategy as necessary. Building relationships always takes time, regardless of the environment.

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