Some people are naturals at connecting with other people.  They easily find common interests, and genuinely enjoy meeting people.  They are masters at working the room with a friendly smile and a firm handshake.  They have built their business by creating trust, relationships, and often friendships, with customers and suppliers.  Then COVID-19 happened.

“But I’m a people person. I need to talk to clients in person!”

“I don’t like talking to a computer.  It’s just not the same.”

“I’m just not comfortable with technology.”

We have all been in a virtual networking meeting where either everyone talks at once or no one speaks because they are being polite.  It is a challenge.  So what is the People Person to do?

Don’t give up on the virtual group meetings.  They are a great resource for meeting new people.  Be sure to share your contact information in the chat feature and encourage others to do the same. (Remember to save the chat.) Take a screen shot so you can put faces to names.  Your next step is to connect with these people on social media and schedule time to meet with them individually.  Find out if the person is comfortable meeting in person before you schedule anything.  If they do not want to meet in person, channel your inner teenager and schedule a phone call or video chat.

Learn from your more introverted colleagues. They are secretly cheering the use of technology for meetings so ask if they have any tips for how to be more comfortable connecting with a dozen boxes on a screen.  If you’re at an in-person event where everyone is wearing masks, notice whose eyes are smiling, telling you they are smiling behind their mask. Come up with a signature wave in place of a handshake.  Use your mask as a marketing tool.

Even in a pandemic, we all need business growth.  Our networking methods are different; however, they can still be effective.  Adapt to a hybrid model of meeting people where they are comfortable and soon you will be comfortable with it as well.