Your network is vital to your professional success. While what you know is undoubtedly important, who you know is often the difference between a fun, exciting career and an unfulfilling job that you can't wait to leave.
There are plenty of networking tips on the internet. But we bet you haven't ever considered the ways in which visual communication strategies can help you become a better networker, right?
Keep reading to learn what visual communication is, why it's advantageous, and five specific ways to use visual communication to network more successfully. Let's dive in!
What is Visual Communication?
Visual communication is the process of conveying thoughts, ideas, and other bits of information in a way that can be physically seen by message recipients. Examples of visual communication include video messages, infographics, annotated images, and GIFs.
Visual communication is one of the five main communication types that humans use; written, verbal, nonverbal, and formal/informal communication being the other four.
3 Advantages of Visual Communication
These days, most business communication is either verbal, or written. We call colleagues on the phone, send peers emails, and comment on popular thought leaders' social media content on a regular basis.
But visual communication is becoming more and more popular, mostly because it provides communicators with three distinct advantages: increased productivity, better clarity, and more engaging messages. Let's take a look at each of these benefits individually.
1. Increase Your Productivity
Imagine being able to record yourself speaking your mind rather than typing out long-winded emails. Or annotating a screenshot with arrows and text boxes to quickly pinpoint specific design issues rather than going back and forth with a graphic designer via Slack.
Visual communication techniques, once mastered, will allow you to communicate at the "speed of sight," which will improve productivity for both you and your message recipients.
2. Communicate With More Clarity
Visual communication will also allow you to communicate more clearly with your target audience. Both written and verbal instructions are easily misunderstood. But screenshots, screen recordings, and GIFs show recipients exactly what it is you're trying to say.
When attempting to do something you've never done before, would you rather read an instruction manual or watch a YouTube tutorial? Most of us would choose the YouTube tutorial. Why? Because it's much easier to grasp new concepts and information when we can see it.
3. Better Engage Your Audience
Lastly, visual communication is much more engaging than other forms of communication because images often invoke emotional responses. That's why blogs like this one include images every few hundred words to break up the text.
Plus, studies show that people generally only remember 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read, but can recall 80% of what they see.
5 Visual Communication Networking Strategies
Visual communication can benefit professionals in multiple ways, as we've just seen. But did you know that you can use this communication type to network more successfully? It's true! Here are five visual communication networking strategies for you to try:
1. Shoot a Video Introduction
Most online networking happens via email or social media. Perhaps you just read a fantastic blog post and want to connect with the writer to let them know how much you appreciated the piece. So you track down their email address and shoot them a quick message. Or maybe you stumble across an intriguing post on LinkedIn and start a dialogue in the comment section.
Both of these are examples of online networking — and there's nothing wrong with either of them. In fact, countless people use these tactics to grow their personal networks every day.
However, doing what every other professional is already doing won't help you network more successfully. To get ahead of the game, you need to devise unique strategies that set you apart from the other people in your industry.
That's why we recommend shooting a video introduction and sending it to the people you want to connect with instead of simply writing them an email or commenting on their social posts.
Bringing this visual communication strategy into your networking efforts will help set you apart from most others and better engage your audience. Think about it, would you rather receive a written note or a video message? Most of us would choose the video because it's unique and seems more personal than an email or LinkedIn message.
2. Send a Complimentary Screenshot
Another way you can use visual communication to up your networking game is to send a complimentary screenshot to industry professionals you want to connect with.
What do we mean by a "complimentary screenshot"? A simple screenshot of a website design element or piece of content that you find exceptional. You can then email the screenshot to the person who created it and compliment them in your accompanying message.
This is actually a technique that Maile Waite, the Digital Marketing Manager here at CloudApp, frequently uses. She says, "I'll often send a screenshot of a website design element I like on someone else's site and reach out to let them know."
It should be noted that you can also send a GIF, screen recording, or annotated image instead of a screenshot if you prefer. Just make sure that whatever you send is complementary to the recipient, which will help you get your foot in the door, so to speak, and garner a response.
3. Share Informative Visual Content
If you don't feel like a video introduction or complimentary screenshot is the right strategy for you, perhaps you can share informative visual content with the folks you hope to connect with.
Informative visual content can take many forms. You could, for example, shoot a quick screen recording in response to a question you saw posted on social media. If the video provides a satisfactory answer, you'll likely have the chance to engage with the poster in the future.
You could also send an infographic or annotated screenshot to an industry professional that you want to connect with and give them permission to use the content on social media, on their blog, or in their YouTube videos. Obviously, you'll just want to make sure that the content you send them is both extremely relevant and of the highest quality.
This visual communication strategy works because we're all looking for new information or ways to improve the content we've already created. If you're able to provide a potential contact with one of these two things, you'll likely see your network grow.
4. Record a Video Testimonial
If the professional(s) you wish to connect with has created a product, course, or service that you enjoy using, or works for a company that does, consider recording a video testimonial for them expounding on why exactly you enjoy their offerings.
Testimonials are incredibly powerful. If you don't believe us, ask yourself if you've ever purchased a product online without reading reviews first. Aside from everyday goods like toothpaste and dog food, most of us consult the internet and/or seek out the opinions of trusted friends before spending our hard earned money on anything.
If you can provide a potential contact with a great testimonial, it will most definitely be appreciated! Furthermore, it will likely open the door for you to engage and network with them in the future because they'll be so thankful for the amazing content you so generously gave them.
Obviously, this visual communication for networking strategy only works if you've used (and enjoyed) a product that's associated with the industry professional you hope to connect with. We do NOT encourage you to create a fake testimonial! But if you find yourself in a position to use this tactic, we're confident that you'll find it quite effective.
5. Create a Video Invitation
Finally, you could create a video invitation and send it to the folks you hope to network with. Now, you're probably wondering, "What am I inviting them to?" The answer is, anything!
Are you hosting a local business brunch? Invite local business professionals that you want to network with to it via a personalized video message. Maybe you're scheduled to speak on a webinar. Send a video invitation to others in your industry who might find the content useful. In all likelihood, you're a part of a business-related Facebook or LinkedIn group. Why not invite the people you want to network with to them with a quick video?
This is a powerful strategy because it enables you to contact people in your industry with value (you're offering them the chance to further their own careers by accepting your invitation), which will allow you to present yourself as someone who others want to have in their network.
Even if the professionals you contact don't accept your invitation, you'll probably still get a response back from them. This is because video invitations are so rare and the use of them shows how well you esteem the people you send them to.
CloudApp For Visual Communication
Visual communication strategies can help you network more successfully — as long as you deploy them properly, of course. Now the question becomes how do you shoot quality videos, take and annotate screenshots, and create GIFs? Is there a software you can use to make this process both quick and easy? In fact, there is!
CloudApp is a professional-level visual communication tool that's used by major corporations like Adobe, Salesforce, and Uber. It's screen and webcam recording, GIF creation, and image annotation features are industry leading and will allow you to implement all of the above strategies with ease.
The best part is, you can start using CloudApp right now for free. Sign up today and get access to many of our platform's leading features. If you decide you want to use premium features like enhanced editing options, call-to-action buttons, and do-not-disturb mode you can sign up for a Pro plan for just $9 a month.
Boost your networking efforts today and craft amazing visual content with CloudApp!
Whether you use CloudApp or not, the visual communication strategies listed above will undoubtedly make you a more effective networker. We encourage you to give them a try.
From quick introductory videos to complimentary screenshots, each of the ideas in this article will help you increase productivity as you network with your peers, communicate more clearly with them, and really engage them in the messages you send. Good luck!