Don’t let social distancing concerns limit your networking opportunities because it’s entirely possible to continue developing your professional network in a virtual setting.
Social distancing requirements have limited face-to-face interactions, which can impact your networking opportunities. Your virtual network likely intersects with the network you’ve built in-person and can be just as effective in this new socially distanced normal.
Here’s how you can network effectively in a virtual setting.
1. Be active on social media
Social media offers endless opportunities for networking. Private groups are popular on LinkedIn and Facebook and allow you to connect by topic, industry, or location. Within these groups you can engage in conversation and build connections. Social platforms like Twitter and Instagram provide opportunities to contribute to conversations and to showcase your skills and expertise. Don’t be shy, introduce yourself online and interact with the audience.
2. Attend online events
Although most of us are feeling overwhelmed by the number of events now offered online, don’t forget that every event presents a new opportunity to expand your network. Search for virtual networking opportunities, attend virtual events, and be an active participant. When appropriate, introduce yourself through online chats to pave the way for continued conversation with new contacts.
3. Update your virtual business card
There’s no need to show up with a stack of business cards when you’re networking online, but you should be prepared with a link that you can easily share whenever you make a new connection online. Whether it’s an email address, LinkedIn profile, or your website, provide people you meet with an easy means to follow up. Even better, collect contact info for these new connections so that you can initiate the follow up just in case they forget.
4. Follow up
Showing up at virtual events and engaging in conversation on social media is great, but don’t forget to follow-up after. Send an email or connect on social platforms and request a 15-minute virtual coffee to keep the conversation going.
5. Engaging authentically
You wouldn’t hand somebody your business card without a proper introduction and that same rule applies when networking online. Show up authentically, introduce yourself, and offer your assistance when it makes sense.
Virtual networking is always a great tool, and especially during a pandemic. With 72 percent of adults in the United States on some form of social media, you should prioritize your online relationships just as much as your in-person ones. By using these networking tactics, you can grow your virtual relationships and open career opportunities, all from the comfort of your living room.