Marketing Channels, Marketing Planning & Reporting

How to be a Pro in Online Networking Video Calls

Photo by Dean Drobot via Canva Pro

Over the last few years, more and more business communication has moved from in-person to virtual. From remote and hybrid working to online networking video calls, the way we interact on a daily basis has shifted dramatically.

If business networking is something you are still fairly new to, and the idea of an online event sends a shiver down your spine – fear not. Here are some of my top tips for before, during and after a networking video call.

Best Practice for Online Networking Video Calls

A quick note before we get started. 

It’s worth saying that one of the best things you can do when it comes to online networking is to relax. Remember that there is no such thing as the “perfect” video call background or environment. And most events will have a mix of first-timers and experienced online networkers, so you’re not alone in this and people are always very happy to help.

The good thing is, everyone is in the same boat. In the last few years we’ve all become accustomed to home WiFi glitches, domestic backdrops or an unknowing pet or family member passing by in the background. Try your best to avoid noise and interruptions, but take the pressure off.

Photo by Nicolas Menijes via Canva Pro

BEFORE: Be prepared

It sounds obvious, but one of the most important things you can do is ensure you are fully prepared for your call. Think about how you would approach an in-person networking event and use that as a basis for how you prep for an online version!

1. Be on time: If you’ve agreed to participate in a video call at 11am, don’t just sit down at your laptop to log in at 10.59! If you were travelling to a networking event in person, you’d allow time for traffic or public transport delays, so do the same for technology. Allow time to check your internet connection is strong, login to the appropriate software or app and test your camera.

2. Dress the way you would in person: Catching up with a client you know well via a video call? If you are both on the same page, a casual approach is great. But if you’re getting involved in online networking with a new bunch of people, treat it the way you would if you were meeting them face to face. Dressing in your go-to networking outfit will make you feel more professional, and give you a confidence boost.

3. Create a professional space: Have you ever filmed a video for your business? A lot of the same rules apply for a live video call. For optimum lighting, try to make sure you are facing a window – or, at the very least, not sitting with your back directly to a window!

Tidy up your space, so there isn’t distracting clutter in the background. They say a clutter free space = a clutter free mind, and that’s the mindset we’re going for here!

Photo by AndreyPopov via Canva Pro

DURING: Be considerate and proactive

Video calls can be tricky when a number of people are involved. Attending an online networking event call is a great opportunity to discuss your business, but be sure not to take over! Being considerate and going in with a plan makes all the difference.

1. Put your camera on: I know it can be daunting, being on camera – it’s not everyone’s cup of tea! However, the chances of you being noticed in a large group are much higher when you’re on camera. Just remember, as unnatural as it may feel to start with, people respond to people. They’ll want to see your face and engage, the way they would in person. Hiding behind the audio alone might mean you get a bit lost behind the screen!

2. Consider where you are looking: Not used to talking on video? It can be daunting getting started! Follow this simple rule of thumb: when you’re talking, look directly at the camera. That way, you’ll be looking at the other person or people. Then, when listening to someone else speak, look at your screen instead. It sounds obvious, but knowing where to look is a simple way to alleviate some of the video call anxiety!

3. Mute your microphone when you aren’t speaking: Especially if there are several participants in an online networking video call, a little background noise can very quickly become a big distraction. To limit this, mute your microphone when you’re not speaking. This will allow the person who is speaking to be heard more clearly.

4. Don’t attempt to juggle tasks: When you’re sitting at your desk, it can be tempting to give in to the urge to multitask. The ping of an email notification on your phone can be enough to grab your attention – don’t give in! If you wouldn’t check your phone or respond to an email standing in front of someone, don’t do it while video networking.

It might feel subtle when the other person can’t see your screen, but the shift in focus will be obvious! Be considerate of the time the other participants are giving up to be there.

5. Be proactive and use the chat option: While in-person networking events can sometimes last for hours when it comes to a video call, most participants are keen to keep things concise! Go in with a plan and stick to it. Who do you ideally want to chat directly to, and what are your main objectives?

Having some direction is a good way to ensure the conversation is flowing. Also, be proactive in including everyone who is participating – some people might be shyer than others when it comes to online networking, so gently reach out to anyone who is remaining quieter!

It’s also beneficial to make use of the chat feature most video call software includes. This allows you to reach out and ask specific questions to or instigate a post-call catch up with individuals.

6. Accept technical glitches: Try as you might to be prepared, technical glitches are par for the course when it comes to online networking. You can test the app or software, check your internet connection, and the screen might still freeze, or the sound cut out. Don’t panic!

Calmly try to regain your connection, and know that no-one will judge you for your wifi having a moment.

Photo by AndreyPopov via Canva Pro

AFTER: Be professional

It sounds incredibly simple, doesn’t it? The bottom line, whether you’re networking online or in person, is to be professional. Following up with people and making notes to improve on are excellent goals following an online networking event. 

1. Make connections: Again, think about how you would behave after networking in person and apply this to online networking video calls. One of the most obvious moves here is to connect with the people you’ve chatted to on LinkedIn. Always remember, it isn’t just about who is in the (virtual) room, but who is in their network, too!

2. Politely follow up: Much like with in-person networking, be sure to promptly follow up with the people you sense there is a potential for collaboration with. A friendly email or polite direct message thanking them for the chat encourages the conversation to continue.

3. Take note and plan for next time: Just finished with an online networking call? Now is a good time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. If you were the host, it might be worth asking the participants for some feedback via a short survey. The responses you get can help you shape the next event.

Or, if you were a participant, it’s a good chance to work out what you want to do next time! That could be to plan your pitch more concisely, speak up more or have a more defined goal noted down before starting.

With countless video call options out there, we are lucky to be able to virtually meet with people from across the globe. With no geographical limit, we can promote out businesses to anyone, anywhere. So as daunting as these calls can be, remember what an amazing opportunity they give us!

I hope these top tips for online networking video calls have been useful – good luck with your next call!


If you are interested in reading more about this topic, have a look at these:

7 Lessons I’ve Learned in Business Networking
The Best Online Marketing Channels for Small Businesses
4 Ways to Grow Your Small Business With Video
Content Marketing Ideas – A Brainstorming Tool for Small Businesses

Denise Strohsahl brand and marketing consultant for small businesses

Hello, I’m Denise from sandstonecastles, a brand & marketing consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I help small business owners like yourself to find the right marketing that’s in line with your brand and values.