Photo source: Pixabay
Successful networking is about building relationships. Staying in touch with people, and being of service to them, even when we aren’t asking for anything in return, and strengthens bonds for the future.
The physical distancing and stay-at-home required during this moment are tough on everyone, even the most introverted among us. For our own professional and personal emotional well-being, we need to stay connected. Networking can help you get a job now, or in the future, and it can also be used to build a community and identify opportunities you hadn’t considered.
Even though you may be staying home to protect ourselves and others, you can still continue to make connections. Reporting from grow.acorns.com, here are tips you can use to continue to nurture and develop your network from home, online.
1. Share Your Time
According to the book "How to Work a Room," by Susan RoAne, one of our roadblocks to meeting people is because we still assume, “Good things come to those who wait.” Susan changed the version to “Good things come to those who initiate.”
You can benefit from being the person who organizes online gatherings, inviting people in your life to get together and meet each other, especially if you, or people close to you are looking for a new position.
If there’s a colleague, former co-worker, or classmate you’d like to see, this is the perfect time. Send them a message. You can talk in-person, but if that feels like too awkward, invite a few more people you may know who would be a good source for your friend.
Find some good lighting and put on the clothes you would if you were going out to meet some new people. Look at the camera for eye contact, not at your screen, and choose a pleasant background.
If you’re hosting a bigger group, have them briefly introduce themselves. Ask everyone to mute their microphones until they are ready to speak. Make sure to include all the guests in the conversation and facilitate so that everyone gets a chance to share their thoughts.
Then follow up like you would after an in-person. Send thank you notes to let them know you appreciated being with them and hearing their contributions, and that it was good to see them. And ask them if there was anyone they would want to talk more with. Remember that a savvy networker makes things happen not just for themselves, but for other people too.
2. Share Leads and Referrals
Right now, many people are looking for new opportunities, due to job loss and insecurity. Or they are thinking about how they can apply their skills in new ways because their industry is struggling. Now is the time to be a matchmaker and help the people in your life build new professional relationships.
Even if you are looking for a new role, reaching out on someone else’s behalf can create a ripple effect. For example, if your friend lands that position, they can introduce you to the new members of their network. Or the person in your network who is hiring for the role your old co-worker is perfect for might know of a job that would be a great fit for you too.
The people you reach out to don’t necessarily have to be close connections. If you see a post in one of your LinkedIn or Facebook groups from someone who is looking for a new position, help on a project, or a volunteer organization to get involved with, and you have someone in your network that could help make that happen, let them know. Check to see if they’re open to an email introduction.
3. Share Your Ideas
If during the course of one of your virtual meetings, you have an idea that you think a colleague would find useful, don’t be afraid to let them know.
You may be hesitant to share information with your boss. But if, for example, you observed the artwork in her/his office on a video call or heard her/him say that she/he’s a fan of painters, why wouldn’t you let her/him know about the artist’s virtual tour of their works.
What’s the worst thing that could happen? Your boss might say, “I’ve already seen it, but thank you.” Look on the bright side, you’ve shown them that you pay attention.