Online Business Networking for Government Contractors
Business professionals, especially those who belong in the government contracting industry, frequently attend networking events and industry conferences to have the opportunity to meet their potential clients and project partners. These networking events provide an avenue for professionals to learn more about the industry and foster connections with key individuals.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic happened. This global pandemic caused massive devastation that disrupted all industries. All activities, particularly networking involving face-to-face interactions, were heavily restricted due to the health protocols.
But fortunately, this is not the end of the line for business networking activities. In fact, it is just the beginning of something new—going virtual.
What is online business networking?
With the New Normal in full swing, networking has taken a new shape to address the limitations it faces in this new era. The traditional way of networking involves attending networking events, inviting key industry professionals to coffee, setting up a pitch session with them, and more.
You can still do all of that with virtual networking—and even more! Since countless industries are now shifting to digital, there are now more opportunities to network, and you can even do it at home.
Why is online networking important for government contractors?
Meet more potential clients
During the traditional face-to-face networking events, you are limited to connecting with people within your proximity or clique. Most of the time, the key industry players you want to network with are in the VIP area, or they are too busy mingling with others as well. But with digital business networking, you are just a few clicks away from creating a network with your target individuals.
Online networking helps break down the barriers. And thanks to it, you now have access to more potential clients than before.
Stay updated with industry trends
Your networks are a great source of the latest industry trends.
Being up-to-date with the latest industry trends will give you an edge in the government contracting industry. In addition to monitoring the federal government’s spending history at the USASpending website, you should also be in the loop for the other factors that may cause drastic changes in the industry. By exchanging information with your peers, you give yourself access to valuable information and insights that may further fuel your company’s development.
Staying in touch with all the relevant changes inside and outside your industry allows you to prepare better for your future business strategy.
Encourages personal and professional growth
We learn by listening to others. And the more people you know, the more you increase your knowledge.
Cultivating a diverse network of experts, professionals, leaders, and people from all walks of life in different industries exposes you to different perspectives, knowledge, and insights that can inspire you. Being involved in a network like this encourages you to hone your personal and professional skills constantly. So even if your industry undergoes rapid and drastic changes, you can still quickly adapt no matter what.
Why is online networking better than traditional networking?
Online networking is more cost-effective
During in-person networking events, you have to worry about a myriad of things that may incur additional costs such: event fees, transportation, travel allowance, accommodation, and even your pocket money for when your networks decide to talk over dinner. And aside from the monetary costs, attending face-to-face networking events requires you to dedicate time and effort to prepare for it beforehand.
On the contrary, you don’t have to go through the hassle of online networking! With virtual networking events, all you have to do is ensure that you have a stable internet connection and a conducive space to work on.
Online networking is less intimidating
The thought of socializing with a room full of strangers is intimidating for some, which deters them from attending networking events. But with online networking, you don’t have to fret about those anymore. You can communicate with them at your own pace. And if you are feeling exhausted with all the encounters, you can just turn off your camera and take a quick break.
Networking online expands your reach
When you want to expand your networks internationally, you must attend overseas conferences. But this is not the case anymore with online networking. Since you can attend a conference even if you are just at home, you can connect with whoever you want, wherever you are.
How can you start networking online?
Decide on a goal
Do you want to boost your business’s visibility? Do you want to get more subcontracting opportunities? These are just examples of networking goals that you have to keep in mind. Without a plan, you would not have any metric to gauge whether you are successful or not.
When you set goals, your efforts are now more focused and guided in achieving them. If you just blindly enter networking, you might be unnecessarily lost in the middle. So as best practice, take a moment to think about what you want to achieve with online networking.
Always aim to enrich your mind
Online networking, or networking in general, is a two-way street. You can’t always expect to take; you should also have something to add to the table. People gravitate towards others who bring value to their lives. So, make it a habit to train your mind whenever you have the time. Be updated on the current news, read more books, and even practice a hobby or two!
Thanks to the internet’s convenience, it is now easier to initiate conversations to create a network. When it comes to networking, networking as early and as often as you can is more effective than networking only when the need arises.
Networking is a long-term investment and not an overnight miracle. Try to reach out to people as often as you can.
Select the best online networking platforms
Since you are now operating in a different space, you have to increase your sphere of influence online! To establish your digital presence, you must select which business networking platform will serve you best.
LinkedIn is one of the renowned professional social networking platforms used by experts and executives from different industries. With LinkedIn, you can establish your network by connecting with industry professionals, publishing thought pieces that demonstrate your expertise in your field, and creating content that can engage your audience.
With nearly 3 billion users worldwide, Facebook remains to be one of the most influential social networking sites. Similar to how you can build your presence on LinkedIn, don’t be afraid to share your expertise with your audience using your platform.
And if you want to showcase your products and services using rich media, YouTube is definitely the place to go. With your YouTube channel, you can create engaging videos about your company, products, and services! And since YouTube’s user base spans across the globe, you get the opportunity to diversify your networks, too.
Attend virtual conferences
Participating in business networking events is much more convenient and efficient than in-person events. Since all you need to think about is having a stable internet connection and a quiet workroom, you can sign up for more virtual events than before.
To know how you can make the most out of it, check out this comprehensive guide to online networking events.
Join an online business networking group
When you feel a bit lost on where to begin, joining different business networking groups might be your best bet! Being involved in professional networking groups gives you access to more networking opportunities, whether locally or internationally.
For starters, here are some of the most common business networking groups that you should consider:
Business referral networking groups
These are networking groups dedicated to bringing together professionals and businesses interested in building a network. Depending on the nature of the networking group, they can be either a casual contact group that holds informal mixers for everyone or an exclusive contact group that constantly hosts brunches and get-togethers to gather business referrals.
Community service networking groups
Compared to other business networking groups, a community service group focuses on forwarding civic causes. This type of networking group allows you to create more meaningful personal, business, and community connections.
Mentorship networking groups
This networking group gathers both seasoned and experienced industry professionals and rising businesses for mentorship opportunities. If you are still new in the field, attending this networking group will be highly beneficial to you.
Maintain your connections
You should remember that networking isn’t simply a business transaction but an effort to build genuine connections. Once you have successfully networked, make sure to keep in touch with them.