virtual networking

What Is A Virtual Networking Event?

The virtual world is becoming more and more an essential part of everyone’s daily lives. In fact, as much as 93% of adult Americans use the internet to help them in different ways. Hence, it is no wonder that many aspects of our lives are being transformed to adapt to the new environment.

Socialization has always been an exclusively face-to-face activity. However, the emergence of easy-to-use online meeting programs has led to the digitalization of this once personal activity. The best example of this shift is the growing popularity of virtual networking events.

Like physical networking events, virtual networking events are meetings organized between individuals who share similar needs, goals, or ideas. The purpose of it is to help people connect with others that can help them achieve their objectives. For entrepreneurs, it is a great way to find potential clients or suppliers.

Virtual Networking Events Versus Physical Networking Events

You may wonder, “Why would anyone wish to connect through online means when physical networking events have always worked?” To answer this question, we must first identify the differences between a virtual networking event and a physical networking event.

Advantages Of Virtual Networking Events

Virtual networking events are relatively new concepts in the business of building connections. Professionals attending virtual networking events might not even be sure what they are supposed to do at these eventsNevertheless, it has some advantages over conducting a physical networking event, such as:

  • Lest costly to implement: With virtual networking events, the only venues you need are the virtual rooms provided by online meeting programs. This means that organizers can cut costs related to renting and other expenses such as food and maintenance.
  • Requires less planning: As no physical venue is needed, organizers do not need to plan for scenarios that may arise had the meeting been physical in nature. It’s easier for those attending to plan what to wear.
  • More accessible to more people: Attending virtual networking events does not require you to travel to a physical venue. This feature means that you can attend any virtual networking around the world as long as you have internet. Virtual networking events require less preparation for attendees.

Disadvantages Of Virtual Networking Events

The fresh concept of virtual networking is also why it is still a long way from being perfect. Here are some issues that you may face with an online networking event:

  • Internet reliability can be an issue: One of the most critical requirements for joining any virtual activity is having internet access. Unfortunately, this means that a slow or unreliable internet may prevent you from enjoying or even completely joining your virtual networking. 
  • Can be harder to communicate: It is normal for any online-based communication to have some delays. This problem is especially true where video calls are necessary. Thus, you may sometimes find yourself reacting late to other people’s messages. It is also sometimes harder to communicate complicated ideas through online calls. Follow up after the event can also be more difficult due to the fact that it’s more difficult to form a quick relationship in this setting.
  • Fewer people can participate: Inviting too many people will make communication harder and harder. More participants increase the risk of delays in the transmission of messages and the risk of people accidentally interrupting others. For this reason, virtual networking events are often limited to small groups of people.

Advantages Of Physical Networking Events

Physical networking events have been around for a very long time. Thus, there are many guides that have been polished over time on how to organize one successfully. However, here are some reasons why you may still opt for a physical networking event over a virtual one:

  • Communication between participants is easier: Talking face-to-face means there is no delay in the transmission of messages between participants. It is also easier to explain complex ideas to people right in front of you.
  • More people can join at a time: The only limit to the number of people who can join a physical networking event is the size of the venue. As long as the organizers are willing, they can accept as many participants as they wish.
  • Connections: No risk of people getting disconnected

Disadvantages Of Physical Networking Events

Nevertheless, physical networking events still do come short in some aspects. Here are some reasons why you may choose virtual networking events over physical ones: 

  • More regulated than virtual networking events: Some localities require organizers to accomplish some requirements for large-group networking events. Furthermore, physical networking events can sometimes be prohibited during certain scenarios, such as during a pandemic.
  • More costly for the participants and organizers: A physical networking event requires organizers to secure a venue large enough to accommodate the participants. In some cases, the organizers may also need to provide food and other amenities to the partakers. Attendees will need to bring more to physical networking events as well.
  • Harder to organize and implement: With physical networking events, there are more ways for things to go wrong. For example, your chosen venue may be unavailable, or people fail to attend on the date itself. 

Each type of networking event has pros and cons. Whichever type you may choose, remember to plan every step of the way. This way, you can make sure that everything will turn out smoothly.

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virtual networking

What Should You Do At A Virtual Networking Event?

Virtual networking events are a new, but growing, concept in the social and entrepreneurial world. So, it is understandable that plenty of people are still confused about how to attend them properly. Moreover, the lack of online and offline guides makes it difficult for newbies to know what to do during such events.

To help you out, here are the things you need to do before, during, and after a virtual networking event.

Things To Do Before Your Virtual Networking Event

Before joining a virtual networking event, you first need to get ready for it. Otherwise, your participation will likely be unproductive and a waste of time. Here are the top things you need to do before attending an online networking event.

Research About The Meeting’s Purpose

Most, if not all, virtual networking events have a specific purpose why people organized them. For example, people can organize them to connect those from similar business niches, people with similar ideas, or people from the same background. Whatever the purpose is, make sure to research about it thoroughly beforehand.

Doing so will make you more confident with the ideas that you may share during the meeting. It will also communicate to other participants that you are serious about the event. Research will also help you know what to bring to the virtual networking event.

Research About The People

Many networking events allow participants to access the name of others. If so, do a quick research on the identity and background of the people that you will be meeting. Having a little bit of knowledge about other participants will give you an idea of how you can best approach them and what type of attire you should wear.

It will also give you topics to ask them about when your conversation is starting to get boring. Lastly, doing so will help you identify which people you should spend most of your time with.

Prepare Your Talking Points

Your talking points are the ideas you wish to share with your co-participants in the virtual networking event. Therefore, it is best to prepare some of your talking points before the actual meeting.

This is so that you are always ready to share when it is your turn to speak. Researching your talking points will also help you identify other things you may want to share or ask about when the time comes.

Things To Do During Your Virtual Networking Event

Congratulations, you have successfully joined a virtual networking event. Now, you need to ensure that nothing wrong happens during the whole time. Make sure to keep these in mind during the entire duration of the event.

Share Your Ideas

The most crucial thing you need to do during the online networking event is to socialize with the other participants. The best way you can do this is to share your ideas. By doing so, you will encourage other participants to speak to you and give their inputs or suggestions.

Give Others A Chance To Speak Listen Attentively

Equally crucial to speaking is listening. By listening attentively to others, they will get a sense that you appreciate their presence. This will encourage them to speak with you more and build a stronger connection with you.

Organize Your Thoughts

Lags during online meetings are one of the most frustrating things about them. This problem is exacerbated when the participants have trouble organizing their thoughts. If an idea suddenly pops into your head, make sure to organize them with your other ideas first. Doing so will help you, and other participants avoid jumping back and forth between topics.

Take Down Important Information

While attending a virtual networking event, make sure to have a pen and paper beside you. If not possible, use your computer’s notepad application to take notes of key information. This information should include other’s ideas, meaningful information about other participants, and contact information of others.

Things To Do After Your Virtual Networking Event

Ensuring the success of your virtual networking event does not stop once you have disconnected from the online call. You need to follow up and follow through with others. Not only will it cement the good outcomes of the event, but you will also ensure that future events are also a success.

Give Honest Feedback To The Organizer

Most people who join virtual networking events think twice about giving feedback to the organizers. Most of them are afraid to unintentionally hurt the latter’s feelings, leading to them being banned from future events.

However, the contrary is true. Organizers often crave feedback, both positive and negative, from their participants. Assessments given by participants help organizers improve their processes and plan for better future events. In addition, it makes it easier for them to identify parts of their event that went less than they intended.

Reflect On The Outcome Of The Meeting

After giving feedback to the organizers, make sure to do the same for yourself. Reflect on how you performed and what you were able to achieve after the event. Some of the questions that you may ask yourself are:

  • Were you able to share all your thoughts?
  • Were you able to connect with other people?
  • Were you able to collect contact information from the others?
  • How can you improve your socialization skills for future virtual networking events?

Follow-Through On Your Promises

Suppose you promised other partakers that you will contact or collaborate with them in the future, make sure to follow through. There are a few things more frustrating than hoping for a promise that will never come. Not only will you risk getting banned from future events, but you also risk damaging your reputation in the outside world.

Congratulations! You now know what to do before, during, and after you join a virtual networking event. As a result, you should feel more confident when joining them and increase your chances of reaching your goals.

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virtual networking

What To Bring To A Virtual Networking Event

The internet has made it possible for billions of people to connect with just a click. It also made it easier to build relationships with other groups or individuals with the same goals or personalities. Virtual Networking Event platforms have taken the stage among professionals who wish to find people they can relate with.

What Is Virtual Networking Event?

Virtual networking events, like physical networking events, are social gatherings that connect people with like minds. The main difference between the two is that one is done face-to-face, while the other is through the internet. In addition, people often meet with each other through video calls.

A central person or group often organizes a networking event. These events usually have a specific purpose or theme that all participants must follow.

The following are the characteristics of virtual networking events:

  • Less costly to implement
  • Requires less planning
  • More accessible to more people
  • Internet reliability can be an issue
  • Can be harder to communicate
  • Fewer people can participate

The following are the characteristics of physical networking events:

  • Communication between participants is easier
  • More people can join at a time
  • No risk of people getting disconnected
  • More regulated than virtual networking events
  • More costly for the participants and organizers
  • Harder to organize and implement

Now that you are familiar with virtual networking events, let us talk about how you can prepare for them.

Things You Need To Have During A Virtual Networking Event

As virtual networking events are set in cyberspace, there are fewer physical things you need to bring with you when attending them. However, this does not mean that you can slack off and forget about non-physical things. Here are the things you need to bring with you when attending a virtual networking event.

Bring Your Best Self

Before clicking the join button on your event, make sure to prepare yourself mentally and physically. You need to bring your best self to the event if you want others to talk with you. The moment people realize that you are dozing off or are lost in the conversation, they may likewise lose interest in you.

Some things you can do to be in your best before the event include:

  • Have a complete sleep the night before: Having a complete eight-hour sleep before your networking event will make your brain work better. You will be able to answer questions and contribute to your conversations.
  • Eat and drink an hour before the event: Having food inside your stomach and being hydrated will help you think better. However, make sure to do this about an hour before the event to minimize your bathroom breaks.
  • Do some vocal warm-ups: Perform some tongue twisters to make yourself speak more comfortably. Practicing your greetings can also help prevent stuttering or mumbling.
  • Clean yourself up: Being clean will help you feel more confident talking with others. Although other participants will not smell you, taking a bath will improve your psyche. And don’t forget to wear clothes appropriate for the event!

Fresh Ideas About The Topic

One of the biggest mistakes of some people when attending virtual networking events is not preparing their talking points. Unfortunately, many misbelieve that networking events are purely impromptu.

Being unprepared may result in you being excluded in some parts of the conversation. People may also interpret you as not having anything to contribute to the table. Some great ideas or questions you can ask other participants are:

  • Interesting facts about your own business/practice/job
  • Interesting facts about your location
  • How your field/industry relates to theirs
  • “What field/industry are you in?”
  • “How can I help you with your business/practice/job?”
  • “How did you learn about the networking event?”
  • “How can I connect with you in the future?”

Bring Pen And Paper

You need to take down as much key information as possible during the networking event. The “pen and paper” method is a tried and tested way of doing this.

However, in the slight chance that getting this two is impossible, using a text application on your laptop is good enough. The only downside to this is that you will need to switch between your video calling application and text application occasionally. Hence, there is a risk of you missing some things mentioned or shown while you are typing.  

Virtual Business Cards

Sending virtual business cards is a great way to provide your contact information to others. Like traditional ones, virtual business cards contain:

  • Your name;
  • Contact information (mobile number, email, address, etc.); and
  • Possibly your profession or position.

However, with virtual business cards, you can also include other elements such as your image, your portfolio, and a little background about yourself. Lastly, there are plenty of free virtual business card generators online. Some of which allow you to send your card with just a simple link. Virtual business cards will help those you meet follow up after the networking event.

Your Work Portfolio

If the purpose of your virtual networking event is for you to gain professional relationships, having your portfolio is essential. Your portfolio can include previous projects, exhibits of your skills, services, products, and more.

There are plenty of virtual portfolio platforms on the internet that you can use to create one. You can also create a simple portfolio that you can present online using Microsoft PowerPoint or other similar applications.

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virtual networking

How To Follow Up After A Virtual Networking Event

So, you have finally had your first virtual networking event. If things went as smoothly as they should have, then you must have the contact details of some of the participants. If so, then following up with them should be your next step. But how exactly do you follow up after hosting a virtual networking event?

Step-By-Step Guide On Following Up With Other Participants

Getting the contact details of another participant after the virtual networking event is just one step towards building a relationship. It is essential to show them that they are valuable to you and you are to them. The best way for you to do this is through a follow-up.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can follow up with a fellow participant:

Plan Your Follow Up

Before the actual follow-up, you need first to plan your actions. You need to consider things such as your timing, location, and objectives. To prepare your follow-up, list the things you plan to achieve by reconnecting with your fellow participant. Try to answer these questions:

  • Were promises exchanged between you two?
  • If there were promises between you two, do you plan on asserting them?
  • How can you help the other person?
  • What do you plan to get out of following up with them?

Try to remember and list down important personal and professional information about them. The last thing you would want is to make the other person feel like you are mistaking them for another participant. By doing this, you will also be able to address the other person correctly.

Send Them A Pre-Follow Up Letter

Calling a fellow participant out of nowhere can damage your relationship. You never know when the other person is busy or unavailable for a call. So, the best way to avoid this is to send a follow-up letter first.

A follow-up letter can be an email or text message. It can be in any form as long as it will not interfere with your recipient if they are doing something urgent. Your letter should include the following:

  • Your name and contact information
  • Any information to help them remember you (i.e., notable events between you two during the virtual networking event or previous conversations)
  • The name of the person with the proper address (i.e., Doctor, Attorney, etc.)
  • Ask them when they are available for a follow-up call.
  • Ask them for the best way to contact them. (i.e., video call, phone call, etc.)

The best time to send your follow-up letter is at most 24 hours after the event. The reason for this is so that you are still fresh in their memories when they read your letter.

Reach Out To Your Contact

Now that you have scheduled a call with the other participant, it is time for you to call them. Before contacting them, make sure to prepare yourself. Refresh your memory on key information about the other person. Keep a list beside you of crucial things you want to discuss with them.

Introduce Yourself

During the call, make sure to introduce yourself first. Provide the other person with the same name that you gave them during the previous virtual networking event. By doing this, it will be easier for them to recall your name in the future.

Follow-up calls no longer have to be as formal as your previous virtual networking event. So, keep your introduction short and simple. A lengthy introduction may immediately bore the person you are talking to. Hence, they will no longer have the energy to focus on the more essential things you plan to discuss.

Remind Them Of Your Previous Engagement

Like your follow-up letter, try to bring up something from the online networking event you both attended. Doing so will make it easier for you to get the conversation rolling. It will also remind you both of why you connected in the first place. Even better, the other person may remember any help they may have promised to give you.

Offer To Help Your Contact

Connections made through networking events are always a give-and-take type of relationship. Never will it be about just one person asking for help from another. Hence, it is a crucial step for you to proactively ask the other participant if there is any way you can help them with their business, job or other parts of their life.

Ask For Help If Needed

Do not feel shy about asking for help. By connecting with you, the other person will expect some benefit from you. So, it is normal for them also to expect you to ask for their help. Make sure to state how they can help you clearly. Avoid beating around the bush and directly explain your need.

Exchange Social Media Or Networking Accounts

If you could not get their social media handles or online networking accounts in the past, now is your chance. If you plan on having a professional relationship with them, then your LinkedIn account will be the best account to give. Otherwise, your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter accounts can be good alternatives.

Try To Set A Future Meeting

If things go well, try to set a future call with them. A face-to-face meeting is best if it is possible. You can also invite them to have a group call with other participants to make your connections wider. However, make sure to consider their schedule as you did before. If needed, you might look into online networking software.

Thank Them For Their Time

Their time, like yours, is important. Hence, make sure to show your appreciation by giving them a simple thank you. You can also repeat this by sending another short message after the call.

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virtual networking

How Should You Prepare For A Virtual Networking Event?

Virtual networking events can go both ways. Either you connect with people and have a long-lasting relationship with them, or it can go so bad that they will avoid you like the plague in the future. How your networking event will end up depends greatly on one thing, your planning.

Understand The Purpose Of The Event

To plan for a networking event, especially a virtual one, you must first understand why you are attending them. You need to internalize the purpose and goals of the event. The purpose of most, if not all, networking events are to build relationships. However, you need to look deeper than that.

Some questions you need to ask are:

  • “Why was the event organized?”
  • “Who are the participants?”
  • “What fields or industries are the participants from?”

You then need to ask yourself, “What is your ultimate goal in joining this event?” By understanding these things, you will be able to prepare for the event properly.

Learn About The Participants

Learning about the people you will meet will prepare you for how you can approach them. For example, you can use a participant’s interests or business to start a conversation with them. By learning about the person, you can also prepare your talking points specifically for him or her.

Furthermore, you can avoid awkward conversations by avoiding things that you know are not interesting to them. Most virtual networking event organizers share the list of participants beforehand. If not, you can ask them for it.

Prepare Interesting Questions Or Topics

Awkward silences are worse than gibberish. Some people may interpret them as not being compatible with others. By having some questions or topics prepared, you can prevent this uneasy scenario from happening. More importantly, you will not forget to ask things you are interested in.

Here are some suggested topics or questions you can ask other participants:

  • “What field/industry are you in?”
  • “How can I help you with your business/practice/job?”
  • “How did you learn about the networking event?”
  • “How can I connect with you in the future?”
  • Interesting trivia about your own business/practice/job
  • Interesting facts about your location
  • How your field/industry relates to theirs

Find Suitable Clothes For The Networking Event

Yes, you heard that right. Your outfit is still essential when joining virtual networking events. Besides avoiding embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions, your outfit conveys a message to other participants. It tells them how serious you are about the event and what your intentions are.

It can also affect how other people will approach or talk with you. Formal clothing will tell people to talk more seriously and be more reserved with you. Very casual clothing, on the other hand, will make people more easy-going around you. However, they may not take you seriously and think that you are not worth their time.

Prepare An Elevator Speech

An elevator speech is a short message you give people about you or an important topic you wish to share. It is usually three to five minutes long only. Its purpose is to quickly convey key aspects of your topic before the person you are talking to gets bored.

To prepare for an elevator speech, write down your speech with all the information you want to talk about. Write it as shortly as you can. Afterward, set and start a stopwatch. While the stopwatch is going, loudly read your speech the way you usually speak to other people.

After you finish reading your speech, stop the timer. If it is longer than your target time, revise the speech by first simplifying your sentences. Then, one by one, remove some of the topics. Start from the ones you believe to be least significant. Repeat the process above until your speech is around three to five minutes long.

Update Your Social Media And Networking Accounts

After networking, or sometimes even the event, people often check the social media or networking accounts of people they connected with. If your Facebook or Instagram is public, then there is a big chance that they will find it. This is also important to do before following up after the networking event.

So, before going to your networking event, hide posts that you think may work against your favor. Posts such as you ranting about the business of other participants are best kept to yourself. However, you should avoid overdoing this to the point that you become unauthentic.

For professionals, LinkedIn is a popular way to share their professional background. It can also act as an online curriculum vitae. So, it is always best that you update it with your latest projects, job positions, employers, and more.

Check Your Gadget, Internet, And Electricity

Last but not least, check your internet, computer, and electricity a few days before the event. Check with your local internet and electricity provider if there are any scheduled interruptions on the day of the event. Make sure that your internet can also handle video calls without lagging.

Try video calling another person for at least thirty minutes. Check if your video call keeps getting dropped or sounds or images are always delayed. If so, you should get a faster connection as soon as possible. The last thing that you want is irritating other people with you always leaving the call.

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virtual networking

What Should You Wear To A Virtual Networking Event?

Networking events are bread and butter for those who wish to grow their social circle. Whether you join them for business or pleasure, this type of event will surely help you. Everyone knows that the clothes you wear to such events have a significant impact on the outcome of your networking.

What if we take away the face-to-face aspect of networking events? Will clothing still matter? The short answer is yes. Clothing helps you convey that you are serious about your cause and are worth people’s time. Virtual networking events are no exception to this rule.

How Can Clothes Affect Your Virtual Networking?

Virtual networking platforms are not an entirely new phenomenon. Even during the dawn of Skype and AOL, it was already connecting millions of people across the globe. At the same time, people have always questioned the importance of wearing the proper outfit for virtual events.

Many argue that comfort should be above all else when meeting people online. However, it would be best to disregard how you appear, even for virtual networking events. Your look can significantly help your chances of success. Here are some ways your clothing can affect the success of your virtual networking:

Clothes Can Boost Your Confidence

You may be familiar with the idea that wearing perfume can help you feel more confident when talking to people. But did you know that the same effect exists with wearing the correct outfit for the occasion? Having the right set of clothes can help you radiate confidence and help with the follow up after the event.

Wearing proper clothes has just as much benefit on your mental state as with your external appearance. So, the same effect can be felt even if you are only talking through the screen. Having the right outfit can help you speak more confidently and clearly during virtual networking events.

Helps You Set The Tone Of The Meeting

The clothes you wear show other participants how you would like to interact with them. Wearing formal wear will prompt people you are networking with to discuss seriously and efficiently.

By wearing casual clothing, such as your gym clothes, other people may start communicating with you in an informal and less serious tone. Although this has benefits, it may lead to miscommunication. Other participants may subconsciously think that you are not serious about your cause.

How To Choose The Best Outfit For A Virtual Networking Event

Finding the perfect clothes to wear during a virtual networking is not an easy task. There is no one-size-fits-all answer for the best outfit for a virtual networking event. Fortunately, there are some things you can look for to help you choose the best clothes to wear.

Here are some things to look at when choosing an outfit for an online networking event:

Central Theme Of The Networking Event

In some cases, you may be invited to networking events that have a theme. For example, the organizer may want to give you meeting a sunny vibe if they set it sometime in Summer. This fact should prompt you that wearing a formal winter wear would be a bad idea.

The Purpose Of The Meeting

People can quickly tell if you prepared or are aware of the purpose of your meeting through your clothes. So, before you sign in to that video call, make sure to research and understand the meaning of your meeting deeply.

Clothes For Formal Virtual Meetings

If your meeting aims to build linkages between businesses, these are the best clothes you can wear.

For men: Wear a suit and tie over your dress shirt. We recommend choosing a dress shirt with a lighter (not brighter) color such as white or sky blue. Make sure also to wear pants that match your clothes.

You may be wondering why wearing pants is still essential when participants can see only the top half of your body. Emergencies can happen during your meeting. So, you may never know if you may suddenly need to stand up to get something. The last thing that you would want to happen is for someone to see your underwear through their monitor.

For women: Try to select a business casual dress. An alternative might be a blouse that you could wear to a conference or a a dinner out with colleagues. Remember, your goal is to look professional and for your peers to focus on your message.

However, if you prefer to wear a dress shirt, choose one that fits your body nicely. Wearing a suit over is optional and not that important. Similarly, dresses with lighter colors are better. Make sure also to wear pants that match your top clothes.

It’s smart to avoid patterns that are complex or intricate such as pinstripes, checks, herringbone, and textured fabrics. Certain cameras and computer screens can cause these patterns to look distorted which might distract attendees.

Clothes For Casual Virtual Meetings

Suppose the purpose of the meeting is for a casual event. Wearing semi-casual clothes is good enough.

For men: You can wear a colored polo shirt of any color of your liking. Chinos are also great as they look nice but are comfortable for long periods of seating. If you wish to wear a plain t-shirt, make sure to wear one with minimal prints. We also recommend that you wear a nice-looking jacket above it.

For women: A nice long-sleeved shirt is a safe choice for casual events. You can easily pair it with a pair of pants or skirt, and they would still look nice. You can also accessorize by wearing a necklace and earing that match your clothes.

Rules Set By The Organizer

Although uncommon, some virtual networking events set dress codes. However, if they do exist, make sure to follow them to a tee. Not only would this save you from getting kicked out of your meeting, but it would also show your peers that you can understand and follow the rules. Other participants would also see that you respect their time and effort in attending the event.

Main Takeaway

Virtual networking events are gaining popularity. Before joining one, make sure to learn the proper clothes to wear for them. Choosing the right clothes can help you reach your goal. When selecting an attire to wear, keep in mind the meeting’s purpose and theme; don’t forget to consider your comfort when doing so.

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