Tuesday, December 6, 2022

SAVVY Networking in a Hybrid World

It’s been an indescribable two and a half years since the Corona Virus created the pandemonium of a pandemic! Returning to the “new ABnormal” (a phrase I’ve used for almost that long) has contributed to our anxiety and feeling we are “rusty” in social situations.

Many of us are returning to workplaces, meetings, family celebrations, conferences and concerts. While we adapted our social interactions from the room to Zoom —and other platforms so important during the “work remotely” pandemic times­– we are now faced with re-entering rooms. And we are out of practice. Many of us will also still meet and connect on Zoom et al.

HYBRID is Here To Stay

Because people are working remotely and global companies have offices around the world, we’ll still need to be present —and have a presence —in virtual rooms.

For how long?  It’s here to stay because we don’t have to commute, get on airplanes, trains or drive long distances to meet, collaborate and implement plans, projects and programs.

We will continue to interview for jobs, attend meetings and classes and be invited to Zoom, Slack and WhatsApp events in our professional and personal lives.

Some things don’t change.

*Entering a room—or Zoom —full of people, especially strangers, is daunting for 90% of adults according to research on shyness. Whether it’s a professional association event, a book club, a client, vendor or company meeting— most people are not mingling mavens whether or not they self-identify as shy or as a introvert.

*Because our careers, businesses, professional and social lives are enhanced by our ability to meet, schmooze, interact, and make social and business connections, it’s important—even imperative— to learn new ways to socialize and also “work virtual rooms” in order to build business relationships and friendships.

*Developing a solid, support network of colleagues, co-workers and contacts is essential. While being connected on LinkedIn is valuable, relationships are built on positive interactions and conversations.

*To feel confident and comfortable, all we need to do is spend a few minutes to prepare before attending any event, whether in-person or virtually.


  1. A self-introduction. It’s NOT an elevator pitch. It’s 7-9 seconds and is a pleasantry.
  2. Attitude: Shift from wondering who you will meet once you walk in the room or log on to thinking about who you will be fortunate enough to “get to” meet.
  3. Conversation: Read a newspaper or content curator on or off-line. Have 3-5 items of potential conversation to fall back on (the latest industry trend, a movie blockbuster, sports championship, community project or restaurant opening, etc). Small talk leads to BIG TALK and allows us to establish common bonds, common interests and common connections.

Whenever I meet anyone from Chicago we have the “deep dish pizza” dialogue. That may sound trivial to some but it starts a comfortable conversation. (I’m a Gino’s East fan).

To be prepared for conversation– both in virtual and brick & mortar rooms–review the website and do a search for up-to-date information that will provide conversation starters.

Even the weather… and especially those “memorable” weather situations…are good conversation starters. As a CNN meteorologist said, “Weather is something we have in common because it happens to all of us.”

  1. Cards. This is a business staple that is changing. There are people I’ve met who’ve said they haven’t had a card in years. Many people will snap a photo of a card or ask for linkedin contact info and add you to a database. My thought: When at an in-person event and someone asks for a card because that’s their preferred modality, have one to give. You never know if that person is your next new client or vendor, investor or tennis partner.

The first step to creating connections and a network is being “In the room where it happens” (My favorite tune from Hamilton, The Musical).

The next step is FOLLOWUP. Savvy networkers do that which they said they’ll do WHEN they said they would do it.

Our goal is to meet, connect and build rapport and relationships.

It all begins with the first “Hello”!

The Ten Commandments Savvy Networking

  1. Acknowledge gifts from others: leads, presents, ideas, information, support. Send handwritten thank you notes. We all want recognition and to be appreciated.
  2. Stay in touch when you need nothing from others via text, e-mail, messenger, U.S. mail, and… in person.
  3. Be generous… share ideas, thoughts, support, time and laughter with others.
  4. Be involved… be seen on the scene. RSVP “yes” and show up.
  5. Pick up a tab and treat someone to their lunch or latte when you’re the recipient of their ideas, support, referrals and kindnesses.
  6. 6. Observe the etiquette and (un) written rules for networking (The Secrets of Savvy Networking, MacMillan Audio).
  7. Good mouth” others and pass on praise you have heard.
  8. Keep your sources in the loop; let them get the news from you!
  9. Follow- up, follow- up, follow- up in a Timely and Appropriately Persistent (TAP) manner.
  10. Have Fun! Life is too short— and too long —to do otherwise.

About Susan RoAne

Susan RoAne leads a double life as a sought-after professional keynote speaker and a bestselling author of How To Work a Room and The Secrets of Savvy Networking. Known as The Mingling Maven®, she gives diverse audiences the required tools, techniques and strategies they need to connect and communicate in today’s global business world. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, she has a “dynamite sense of humor.”

To hire Susan to speak for your company, association or college, susan@susanroane.com or 415 461 3915.