As people start to see the resumption of some semblance of normalcy amid the COVID-19 outbreak, they remain limited in their interactions with others and, when they can communicate, it is generally from afar, digitally.
Networking, a critical process in anyone’s career trajectory, has become more of an online activity, as people attempt to forge new relationships, connections, and opportunities through technological means.
Bob Sherman, a professor at the University of Connecticut, reveals a few accessible means of comfortably networking remotely.
Before you pursue various networking platforms, evaluate yourself to pinpoint what you bring to a potential relationship, why others would wish to solidify a connection with you, and how you will proceed after some sort of bond is formed.
Develop friendships that show that you help out as much as you receive assistance, finding out what you can provide for others rather than strictly seeking out favors in your hour of need.
Recognize your overall purpose, be it the desire to learn about a specific enterprise, industry, technology, or recreation and uncover who the leaders or people of interest within that field are.
Virtual conferences represent a fairly new concept and though getting your hands on the attendee list might prove problematic, you can acquire information regarding company names, panel representatives and speakers, Bob Sherman notes.
Following these events, you should reach out via email to ask questions and provide general feedback. More importantly, you can determine if they would be willing to set aside a few minutes to speak with you to brainstorm on individuals and companies in your specific area of interest.
Also, reflect on how you might be able to add value to a future conference because your participation could easily afford you a substantial chance to build your network. Sit on the sidelines and observe the set-up first; then, see if and to what extent you can get involved.
Join Online Groups
A number of online resources can simplify your networking needs, Bob Sherman states, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. While the latter is more useful for job postings, Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to join various groups that emphasize job fields, personal interests, specific locations, and more.
Send out a request to join a group that appeals to you and, upon acceptance, begin to engage in discussions on their forum. Group members often share thoughts and ideas regularly, so you likely won’t find much trouble initiating a conversation. You might eventually be at the right place at an ideal time when a member notifies the group about an upcoming job opportunity.
Look to Your Established Contacts
Your colleagues, friends, and family can certainly be instrumental in helping you achieve your ambitions or direct you to someone who can, Bob Sherman says. Maintaining friendships and relationships, whether they were formed prior to or after the pandemic, will only enhance your likelihood for success.
Another available resource is your alma mater’s career center, a familiar place that you can contact and confirm if there is an active alumnus specializing in your field who would be pleased to talk with you.
Face-to-face interactions are still possible with the assistance of a screen and the Zoom application is tremendously useful for checking in with friends, family, and professional colleagues. Sure, it might not be as fulfilling as a meeting in the flesh, but it is a welcomed alternative that keeps your spirits up and social tendencies intact.
Admittedly less personal than a zoom meeting, text messaging boasts the advantage of being straightforward, instant, and quick. Make it a habit to send text messages to your connections consistently, especially if you are unable to agree on a mutually suitable time for a video chat because it will demonstrate a level of care that fosters the relationship further, says Bob Sherman.
Similarly, emails are a superb resource to check in with your contacts repeatedly, ensuring that they are aware of your career growth, goals, and needs. Former supervisors, coworkers, and hiring managers are in a better position to assist you or extend advice when they are cognizant of your progression. Be mindful and courteous not to overdo this tactic though, since it is capable of sending you directly to the junk mail folder.
Improve Your Online Presence
Why not encourage others to take the initiative and contact you? Dedicate some time to updating your online portfolio, such as your resume and relevant profiles, to include any recent, significant changes. A new role, job promotion, educational achievement, set of skills, certification, or award needs to be highlighted on your page. And strive for consistency; update all of your profiles and online information to contain identical information, otherwise a recruiter might not be wholly convinced with the listed accomplishments, says Bob Sherman.
Image Source: BigStock.com (Licensed)