The Networker #35: Networking Pre & Post Pandemic – What’s Changed?
Last week marked 2 years since the events world began to emerge from the pandemic.
Well, it did for me. As an organiser and an attendee.
But are networking behaviours as they were before?
Throughout the pandemic I was waiting for “normal” to return.
The “new normal” became a pandemic buzzword.
It was anything but normal at first.
With some networkers taking longer to return to events than others, the need for organisers to implement COVID safe protocols at events, amongst many other factors.
It wasn’t long before certain shifts in networking behaviours started to emerge.
Today, I share my observations on the differences of networking pre and post pandemic.
Because whilst on the surface it may look the same – certain behaviours have changed.
Unfortunately, I’m seeing some failing to adapt their approach, understand what’s changed, and are at risk of falling behind.
What worked 3 years ago (and long before then) – may not be working now.
People over PowerPoints
Content and speakers at events are seemingly less important.
People network to do what networking is great for; meet other people.
If organisers are making you sit through mundane irrelevant content you can get online for free and in your own time, they’re doing you a disservice.
Pre-pandemic, networking events I ran centered around a guest speaker with an interesting, inspiring or motivating story (adventurers, entrepreneurs, ex-military etc).
Now, that content is available on demand (and usually free).
Be it on podcasts, YouTube, webinars etc.
So if people are spending their money and time on networking, I’ve noticed the value is in the people.
Human relationship first, business second
With the mass adoption of video technology, there’s been a shift in focus to truly getting to know individuals when meeting in-person.
Pre-pandemic, often I found people would try and get the entire conversation in at a networking event.
It’d be more transactional.
But now with a virtual call forming an efficient part of the follow up and networking process, they know this can be used to further a conversation or maintain a relationship.
One of the more pleasing changes I’ve observed.
More selective networkers
And are seemingly more protective of their time.
The pandemic provided many wake up calls – with putting a value on your time being a consistent one.
So in general, I’ve noticed the amount of networking the average networker does has reduced.
With more focus on quality.
Owing to new ways to network and staying connected (due to the adoption of various pieces of technology).
Less is often more with networking.
With this placing more onus on organisers to deliver events worthwhile attending – which is only a good thing for networkers and the quality of networking in general.
Relaxed networking style (including dress codes)
Due to a combination of factors.
Networkers preferring the social and experiential element to networking, rather than the transactional fast paced nature that seemed ever present pre-pandemic.
Dress codes at events are more relaxed too.
Led by more relaxed dress codes in the office, the increase of remote working, and the fact video calls allow us to see people in their own homes (in a much more relaxed state).
I’m seeing less shirts, ties, and stuffy business related attire than I used to. Including on myself.
Networking is starting to look less corporate – more cool 😎
Popular networking days have shifted
Particularly in major towns and cities with big commuter populations.
The increase in flexible working schedules has led to a shift in the popular networking days.
Thursdays and Fridays used to be popular, but now Tuesdays and Wednesday’s are more so.
What are your main networking days?
Increase in ‘multi-city’ networking
The increase in flexible working has also shifted a behaviour I didn’t see coming.
Networkers are networking where they live as well as where the office is based.
For example, someone living in Brighton but works for a company in London, may be splitting their time evenly between the two.
So now is networking in both areas.
Through the adoption of technology during the pandemic, it expanded our reach and the horizons of who we could work with.
And it’s being reflected in in-person networking behaviours today.
An example of networking smarter not harder.
The Wrap Up
The agile networkers out there are thriving.
The ones being open to embracing change. Those not thinking “I’ve always done it this way”.
Using technology to their advantage to network more efficiently.
The networking dinosaurs still behaving like they did pre-pandemic (and 10-20 years before that), run the risk of becoming extinct without adapting.
Which are you?
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