Why a sense of business community is more important than ever
Connection is important to us as individuals, as well as having numerous benefits for our businesses, bringing in fresh perspectives and new opportunities. Here, Chris Caffrey, Founder of the Legacy Club, shares his top tips for making the most of your online networking.
The need for a community has never been greater than it is right now. If the last 18 months have shown us anything, it’s the importance of being able to interact with family, friends and acquaintances, old and new.
The unique set of circumstances that unfolded in March 2020 and persist to this day have taught us the real value of community, which we should now grab hold of with both (virtual) hands.
If you want some help tapping into new communities to extend your network, try these tips and see which appeals most to you.
1. Online networking groups are not just regional or specific to topics
There are more and more opportunities to tell people about what you do and extend your reach to the other side of the world, not just the other side of the room. LinkedIn Events are a great place to start and are often free to attend.
If you're holding an event yourself, you can use this function to invite your LinkedIn connections and encourage them to engage with you and each other in the build up and after the event.
2. Embrace audio only networks
Your voice is often your most powerful tool. We have seen the emergence of two quite brilliant audio only social networks, with Clubhouse and the recently launched Yibber. These are make-up and hairstyle-free zones, that you can engage with in the comfort of your pyjamas!
Both platforms give you a chance to choose the topics you want to listen to and participate in, as well as being able to follow certain speakers to ensure you don’t miss a thing.
Be warned, once you open Pandora's audio box, it’s not always easy to climb out. Days have been known to go missing on these platforms.
3. Connect with entrepreneurial networks
With more than 700,000 newly incorporated businesses launching in the UK in 2020, we are seeing a rise in start-up communities, designed to share ideas, struggles and celebrate success.
The talk isn’t just about business. Communities such as Founders Forum offer advice, collaborations and members lifestyle benefits for tech companies.
With human contact restricted, the virtual offerings of these communities have been vital for their members to be able to bounce ideas around and keep the wheels turning.
4. Attend event platform meet ups
Event platforms such as Airmeet are a great way to meet new people as you drop in and check out a new subject of interest.
While most users of Airmeet are hosting events and inviting guests, there are still a great selection of events that are open to the public that are engaging, insightful and attract an international audience.
In addition to the featured events you can select categories from the menu to browse for particular topics that interest you. The events won’t suit everyone, but they are free to access, and you can connect to some great audiences.
5. Old world meets new world
Private members' clubs were badly affected during the lockdowns, along with most hospitality businesses, but many successfully brought their offering online.
We say many newer and more established clubs offering additional value to their members, which resulted in a significant uptick in membership acquisition during 2020 and 2021.
When those clubs finally reopen, restriction free, members will have a whole new group of people they call friends in their community.
Nothing will ever replace that face-to-face interaction, but we can feel confident that there are plenty of online networking options out there that will create a sense of community for everyone and there is always someone at the end of a video call asking you to “unmute”.
- Discover new online communities using tools such as LinkedIn Events, Clubhouse, Yibber and Airmeet
- Don't forget about more traditional members' clubs that have taken their services online
- There are lots of entrepreneurial networks that you can join, from sector or profession specific to broad support organisations
- You'll find lots more help and advice on digital on UMi's new platform. Sign up for FREE now at https://www.weareumi.co.uk/webapp/sign-up.
Chris Caffrey is the founder of Legacy Club, a member’s only network with a focus on peer to peer connections and unrivalled members privileges.