Are you missing the in-person conversations with colleagues or speaker presentations from networking events? We get it. COVID has shut down most in-person networking groups, but that doesn’t mean you can’t network. In fact, quarantine may have shown us how easy it is to do from the comfort of our own home—virtually! Instead of finding time in your schedule to attend meetups, which often includes driving to a different location after work, you could meet new, inspiring people at the click of a button. Step up your virtual networking game with these 4 tips.
Keep Your Routine
Everyone could use a bit of normalcy right now. So, if you had a weekly coffee break pre-COVID with a colleague, don’t skip it—make it virtual. You could even send over a care package with new coffee or tea to try during your meeting as an added touch. Check in a few hours before and decide what mode of communication will work best for you both. Video is great but may not always work, so try a phone call instead to eliminate any Zoom fatigue.
Perhaps your regular monthly networking group has gone virtual—keep attending. Meeting over video isn’t the same as interacting in person but is still a great opportunity to connect. You’ll also be exposed to industry trends and new ideas that could inspire your next project!
Host Your Own Virtual Event
Not finding a virtual networking event that suits your interests? No matter, you can start one.
Create a LinkedIn or Facebook group for people in your industry, field, or interests. Connecting over a common experience is a great way to meet new people and build a strong foundation for networking relationships. To make things interesting, see if anyone in the group would present on a popular topic that could benefit members. Members will gain relevant insights and ask engaging questions that bring value to everyone. Creating your own group also allows you to expand your reach across time zones. Look for opportunities to connect with folks in different states or even countries!
With the influx of spam emails and phone calls, it’s even more important to avoid generic conversation starters when messaging someone for the first time. If you want your messages to be read, you need to be genuine while also succinct. Check in with them, see how they’re doing, then talk about what you have in common. This could be your field of study, your career industry, similar projects you’ve worked on, or even personal interests. If you’ve already met them at a previous meetup, mention that too.
Networking is a two-way street: be of help to others, and hopefully they will return the favor. Don’t start conversations solely to help yourself. Focus on genuinely trying to get to know your contact. Ask thought-provoking questions about their job or what they like about their current employer. Follow-up after the conversation or virtual event and offer to keep in touch—then do it!
Though networking is often about meeting new people and getting your name out there, don’t forget to reach out to your previous contacts, even if you haven’t spoken to them in a while. It never hurts to see how they’re doing or if there’s anything you can do for them. Who knows, they might need a second pair of eyes on their resume if they are looking for a new role, and your message came in at just the right time! Be helpful, kind, and supportive and your network is likely to reciprocate the good deeds.
Do you have a video interview coming up? Ace it with these tips.