We are currently in very strange times, and although jumping onto a Zoom or joining Microsoft teams, is becoming a daily occurrence, it is becoming apparent that not everyone understands the requirements.

Suzy Orr, founder of Unique Ladies Network and a former Boost Growth Support Programme participant, offers her ten top tips for video networking.

Having networked for years, and successfully running the Unique Ladies Network Franchise for over five years, I wasn’t particularly surprised to receive a call from the team at Boost Lancashire, asking if I would run a training session How to Network Online’ to help Lancashire businesses prepare to engage in a new way of networking during the coronavirus pandemic.

The training was well-received, and shortly after I was invited to facilitate an online network for Boost clients.

At a recent networking event we had nearly 40 Lancashire-based businesses online, and what followed was a very successful, supportive network and requests to host more events online.

This has prompted me to share some very basic, but sometimes not very obvious, tips and recommendations when using Zoom or networking online.

Here are my top ten tips:

#1 Still dress to impress

You are still representing yourself and your business, so turning up in pyjamas is really not the done thing. Think about what you are wearing from the waist up, present yourself as you would when walking into any meeting. Be groomed.

#2 Check the angle

Position your camera centrally, no-one wants to see the side of your head or the top of your head, or (as my mother always shows me) your ceiling!

#3 Use natural light

If possible, sit facing a window, the natural light makes a huge positive difference without having to think about any sort of professional lighting.

#4 Review your background

There’s nothing more off-putting like an untidy background, an unmade bed, dishes in the sink etc, this is business, we don’t want to see how you live.

#5 Add a professional profile picture

Whether you have a paid Zoom account or a free one, it is essential to add your profile picture. Always log into your account, then use the meeting number to join a meeting.

That way whenever you remove yourself from video, you will appear as a professional image and not a name. As a business owner it is vital to have professional profile images – on LinkedIn too!

#6 Be fully committed to the meeting

If you need to leave the meeting, to deal with children, pets, a call of nature etc, remove yourself from video. It’s simply courteous. If you don’t you will distract other attendees.

#7 Mute yourself

Again it’s simply courteous, other attendees do not want to hear your washing machine, children, dog, phone ringing. If you need to speak, use your space bar, which unmutes or top right of your image hit unmute, then mute again. Wear headphones/earphones.

#8 Share your contact details

Share website and/or your mobile number in the chat. You can also message other attendees privately in chat if your question is not relevant to the rest of the attendees.

#9 Ensure your name is on your image

To do this, again top right, hit the three dots and ‘rename’ I’d suggest your name and business name.

#10 Be prompt

Make sure to arrive a couple of minutes early, as you would for any other meeting, if you are late, apologise then get straight into the meeting.

I’m sure there are other tips and suggestions, but I really hope that some of these give you something to think about before you attend your next Zoom.

Here is a webinar to help follow my tip and hints:

My final thought, do not schedule back to back Zoom calls, although it is a convenient solution to a current problem, you still need to allocate time between meetings, for notes, follow up, comfort breaks, lunch etc. Be kind to yourself and regularly take a break from your electronic device.

Suzy Orr is founder of Unique Ladies Network a professional and friendly ladies networking group. When Suzy engaged with Boost’s Growth Support Programme she had set up a Unique Ladies Network Bolton group in 2015, followed by Manchester and Preston and then Liverpool in September 2017. She now has networking groups that are regularly hosted across the North West to support women in business. All her networks are still running as normal but are free and are hosted online. Details can be found at www.uniqueladies.co.uk

Boost’s website has a dedicated events section to provide details of online networking events, helpful workshops and webinars available to Lancashire businesses. 

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