Before the pandemic, networking typically included shaking hands, having conversations, meeting face-to-face, and connecting on LinkedIn. In today’s world, networking has changed drastically with virtual networking becoming the new platform to foster connections. So, how can we continue to grow our network if in-person events are not happening? Here are some ideas to help increase your opportunities to connect with others.
Set aside time. The work week can go by in a blink of an eye, whether you are working remotely or are working in person. So how can we include time to network? A simple 10 minutes a day can help you expand your network. Once you get in the habit of checking in and engaging on platforms like LinkedIn, the search becomes easier. If 10 minutes a day becomes too demanding, scale it back to semiweekly or even weekly.
Leverage existing relationships. A helpful and easy way to build your network is to ask your existing connections if they know anyone you should connect with that would match your networking goals. Many times, our next career move or professional development opportunity is grown through people within our existing network. Some tension is relieved since you both have something in common: your connection. This can help break the ice and ease into conversation.
Attend webinars. Webinars are a great way to connect, especially ones that include a happy hour or networking segment. Doing a weekly search for upcoming webinars on platforms like EventBrite, Meetup, Facebook events, or LinkedIn events is a great way to ensure you do not miss an opportunity.
Browse LinkedIn. Scan the newsfeed daily and comment on articles you find interesting. Connect with the person if you would like to learn more about that certain article, or industry, they are posting about. If you don’t know where to start, search a topic that is of interest to you. You can also search using hashtags to find relevant content and connections as well. Articles and people in that industry will be brought up in the search results.
Send a follow up message/email. Once you have introduced yourself and made conversation, make sure to send an email or message. Staying in touch after connecting is crucial in building and maintaining relationships. A simple, “Thank you for connecting. I look forward to staying in touch!” message is a great way to show you want to stay engaged.
While in-person networking may remain at the wayside for a while, maintaining and building your network virtually should still be a priority.