The pandemic has limited in-person interactions, including opportunities to meet new people and develop business relationships. With mask mandates changing, Snohomish County networking groups are starting to or are considering resuming in-person gatherings or are adjusting to a hybrid model of remote in-person meetings.
“We’re starting to see a combination of remote and in-person events,” said Garry Clark, President, and CEO of the Economic Alliance Snohomish County (EASC). “Understandably, there is still a little bit of apprehension for some. But there’s also a lot of excitement about being in the same room and engaging with people.
“Virtual fatigue is real. The energy from folks when events are in person is incomparable,” he said.
Clark explained EASC will continue to meet our community’s needs by holding in-person events and virtual Coffee Chats. EASC holds a weekly remote coffee chats series with upwards of 100 people attending and plans to continue. He said the EASC is planning an in-person Economic Forecast & Annual Meeting on April 27 and is seeing interest.
“People are starting to return to networking at a strong rate and are trying to find resources and opportunities to rebound,” he said.
Several local networking groups in Snohomish County are offering hybrid and in-person options. If you’re looking to step back into networking, make new connections and meet business people in the local Snohomish County community, these networking tips from local networking professionals can help.
According to Rhonda Snyder, Business Development Officer at Coastal Community Bank, “The goal of networking is to develop relationships and build relationships. Too many people try to sell,” she said. “Engage in networking groups to build relationships. You shouldn’t have to sell.”
Snyder advises patience. “You’re not going to get your results right away. It takes time, and you must nurture your relationships,” she said. If the groups you’re a part of aren’t seeing an influx of new and different people, reconsider and evaluate the value.
If you’re new to networking or are a bit rusty, Snyder recommends, “Be willing to step outside your comfort zone and be the first one to say hello and start a conversation,” she said. “When you sit at a table, sit with people you don’t know. The whole point is to meet new people.”
While some networking events are returning to in-person, some continue remotely or provide in-person and hybrid options. Snyder advises to be effective in remote opportunities, message individuals through the platform directly, and introduce yourself. If an offline or in-person conversation is warranted, follow up with them offline.
Snyder also advises following online meeting etiquette. “Keep your camera on. You must participate and speak up. Engage in the conversation,” she said. “You will have to be more involved than you would in an in-person networking event.”
Melissa Hemrich, Business Development Officer at Coastal Community Bank, advises choosing events or groups to participate by asking people you trust about groups you’re considering or what they recommend. “There are so many opportunities; you’ll want to ensure you’re spending your time effectively in groups and at events that fit your needs and, in return, benefit the group,” she said.
Hemrich advises networkers to try out different groups to see what works. Also, consider focusing on industry, region, or groups with guidelines that limit people from various sectors. She also recommends only participating in groups that you enjoy.
Hemrich advises looking for opportunities that provide a mutual benefit. “Get to know others and learn about them, because they may know someone that you can help, or you may know someone they can help,” she said.
Both Snyder and Hemrich recommend using LinkedIn to support networking efforts. “Get verbal permission with people you meet and ask them if they would like to connect on LinkedIn or if they are open to being contacted in the future,” Hemrich said. “Also, outside of LinkedIn, be sure to follow up with your connections after you meet them.”
For help with networking tips or to learn about local opportunities, contact Rhonda or Melissa by visiting Coastal Community Bank, and checking out the Snohomish County networking groups list. Also visit Resources | Financial Tips, Tools & Resources (coastalbank.com) for business tips and resources.