Originally appeared on Joyce Bosc Linkedin on March 26, 2021
A few months ago, Jack McGuinness, an executive team coach and expert, invited us to an hourlong virtual networking call he was hosting for several C-suite GovCon executives. With in-person networking on hold due to COVID, we were open to trying something new. Jack let us know that this call would “expand [our] network with some like-minded folks” and would be “solicitation-free.”
How could we say no?
The next week, we dialed in and were so impressed that when we hung up, we realized we needed to dig deeper into what was behind the success of Jack’s call.
It started last March when, like most of us, Jack could no longer attend his three monthly in-person networking breakfast meetings. “I was invited to a virtual call held instead of one of our in-person networking meetings and soon after I started doing the same thing,” said Jack. He now organizes two virtual networking calls a week.
Jack is the moderator and invites another professional to serve as the co-host. He and the co-host each invite three people. “These calls are for folks who are givers and interested in helping other people,” he explained. “Our purpose is to get to know good people who are selling to the same type of customer, while staying laser-focused on learning, building new relationships and being helpful to others.”
Tip One: Invite the right people and the right number of people.
When asked about the “special sauce” that makes his calls meaningful, Jack’s answer was to keep the group size to about eight, and to only invite givers rather than takers. Both of these tips, he said, would facilitate deeper connections and ensure that each guest has enough time to share their story and ask questions.
Tip Two: No solicitation and structured moderation.
Once the call begins, ‘’our method is to have each person introduce themselves, as well as describe their professional journey and where they are now,” said Jack. “I typically ask a couple of questions, such as what struggles are you having with pipeline issues and is there anything that we can do on the call to help?”
Tip Three: Build relationships based on empathy.
Jack’s vision of successful networking is not about how many people can get to know each other, but rather how many people can help each other based on sincere empathy. “I marvel at how vulnerable guests are with one another and how willing they are to connect in order to help. It’s almost a study in human dynamics, where I witness people being engaged and interested in each other’s stories versus just wanting to sell or tell their own story.”
Jack was quick to point out that rarely has anyone turned down an invitation. He attributes that to people’s thirst for some sort of connection and trying to figure out how to do more quality networking versus just showing up to some online conference.
Today, it is even more important to be proactive in your networking efforts. Virtual networking is an inexpensive and efficient way to open doors to unique business possibilities. By hosting your own virtual networking events, you’ll be able to enhance your network, build your reputation and feel good that you helped someone during these enormously challenging times.