For tour operators, online networking is simply the use of internet-based media platforms to stay connected with industry peers. In times of the COVID-19 pandemic, online networking has gained popularity. Most likely, this wil remain popular long after that.
Mainly because there is no other option at the moment but also because it’s less time consuming and saves a lot of CO2 emissions. In the future, we’ll hopefully be able to find a better balance. (Online) networking helps you to:
- Create brand recognition and awareness
- Stay top of mind in the industry
- Connect with potential new partners
- Forge new relationships with resellers
Tips to successfully network online
Networking online is different and for some also more difficult. It’s actively looking for people to network with and less spontaneous as during a live networking event. Be guided by our 5 tips to successfully network online.
1. Focus on building relationships
Online networking is equal to building meaningful relationships. If you want to be successful in online networking, keep in mind that relationships are not a one-way street. Invest time in getting to know the other person, their job and how you can collaborate. Think about what you can offer that person. Make your communication personal and open.
2. Bring your business value
When you think about what you can offer the other party, it’s important to know and bring your business value. And to have a clear story ready to go. Within a minute, you should be able to explain your business and identify its unique selling points. Convince your conversation partner why you are interesting to talk to and to possibly even work with.
3. Target and expand your existing network
To make the most of online networking, think about who you want to talk to and possibly work with in the future. Approach people from your existing network such as old colleagues or industry experts you’ve worked with in the past. You are already familiar, so the networking will come more easily. Also think beyond your current network, and approach businesses and experts you would like to work with or learn from.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
An easy way to network online is to ask for help. People love feeling useful and appreciated. Ask for advice on a business dilemma or a personal introduction to someone in their network. Also, offer others your help and make an introduction in your network or answer a question they may have. People will remember you for this and it might come handy in the future.
5. Get comfortable with technology
Lastly, a very essential aspect of online networking is being able to handle the technology. No matter what platform you are using, make sure you know how it works. Simple tips for smooth online networking:
- Be 5 minutes early in the meeting to check video and audio settings
- Always look into the camera and don’t get distracted
- Take your time, talk slowly and be patient with others
- Communicate the platform link and expectations of the call
Where to go for online networking?
There are endless opportunities to network online. We recommend the following four places to get started.
Online networking events offer you the chance to meet with other travel professionals in an organised setting. Often there are sessions from industry experts to learn from and virtual chat rooms where you can chat with other attendees.
Find the top 9 travel and tourism conferences to attend in 2021.
Personal approach via email
Another great way to network online is via personal emails. If you don’t know who to approach, have a look at the exhibitor lists of online tourism events. Don’t forget to clearly introduce yourself and keep in mind to also add value to the recipient. Focus on building a relationship!
This social media platform is designed for professional networking. It’s a great place to (re)connect with people you know and to make new connections! Share your insights by writing posts or giving your opinion on other posts. LinkedIn is a very accessible way of personally connecting with industry peers.
If you send someone a connection request, always include a message where you introduce yourself and why you’d like to connect.
If you can’t meet in person, video calling is the next best thing. Video calling often comes in after you have made an earlier connection. For example, through online events, email or LinkedIn. It will help you discuss your questions or proposals easier and in a more natural way.
Happy online networking!
At the moment, it’s a difficult time to network. Know that it will help your business grow and that you will learn from others. Remember to prepare yourself well. Think about who you want to collaborate with and the value you will bring. Have your story ready and focus on building relationships. Happy networking!