Digital coffee chats, virtual meetups, and LinkedIn messaging: The New Norm of Networking
This year when more than 42% of people are now working from home, “going to work” seems to have a whole new meaning. The entire landscape of the job environment has shifted towards remote working. Scheduled meetings have turned into scheduled Zoom calls, face-to-face interactions have turned into instant messaging, and a pat on the back has turned into a “like” or a smiley face emoji. We may have lost the ability to interact and network in person, but it is still imperative that we build our connections and communicate virtually.
Follow these four essential tips to build meaningful relationships, interact with like-minded individuals, and provide yourself the best opportunity to succeed in a virtual environment.
1. Assess your current network.
Assess your current network and note down the people you talk to as well as how often you talk to them. If there are individuals who can provide you insight into a specific subject matter or field in your network, put an asterisk next to their name to signify interacting with them more. Reach out to people when you need help and clearly state your intentions before engaging in a more in-depth setting. If you can potentially provide these individuals with valuable information, skills or talent, they will be more likely to help you.
2. Create a plan to connect with new individuals.
The biggest obstacle to overcome is determining how to identify people to connect and interact with. A general rule of thumb should be that each connection should be meaningful and relevant to your future endeavors. A great way to go about this is evaluating second degree LinkedIn connections, meaning, the connections of your connections. Send personalized notes to each individual briefly introducing yourself and the intentions to develop the skills for the field in which they work. After establishing a meaningful connection, schedule meetings with your newfound peers and use a calendar to keep track of how many people you reach out to and the conversations you have. Maximizing the number of interactions daily gives you the best chance for a response and an opportunity to share your story. Aim to contact or connect with at least five to ten individuals in a given day. This also means using platform extensions like Instagram direct messaging, Facebook messenger, Twitter direct messaging, LinkedIn messaging, and email.
3. Increase your social media presence.
In a remote working environment, it is important to maintain a strong social media presence to convey to future employers that you are a complete and well-rounded individual. Aim to update all of your professional social media platforms like LinkedIn. Complete and polish your LinkedIn profile to make it more likely to show up on a recruiter’s or prospective employer’s feed. Use a professional headshot for your LinkedIn profile, not a selfie or picture of you in casual wear. Once you feel happy with your image, interact with content you find interesting and engaging. More specifically, try to comment with high-visibility posts and engage with content. Showing support on other people’s job updates and content can help increase your presence on LinkedIn.
4. Prepare for online interactions.
Remember, you do not need to dress formally in a suit and tie for your business interactions. One rule of thumb you should abide by is dressing appropriately to answer the door. This means casual, yet visually appealing clothes that establish a conversational tone between you and your prospective contact. Schedule informational interviews with people in your network to learn more about what a person does in the field in which you are interested. First impressions count, and to make sure that your interaction goes as smoothly as possible, act as you normally would face-to-face. When you see your contact in person, it should not be as if you just met.
If you follow these tips, you will be able to network with various industry professionals in the virtual work environment. Remember to seek out help when only you need it and provide information that is valuable to your network. A well-scheduled individual is an individual set for success in the virtual world. Be intentional about your endeavors and make each opportunity for a connection count.