Networking Virtually…tips for the new normal

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We are being forced into a world of limited in-person, face-to-face contact. Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t network. It just means that you’ll need to use different and sometimes new tools to build relationships. Networking is networking. As long as you have the right mindset – before any networking situation and every conversation, your primary mission is to be thinking:

Who and how can I help?

Notice this isn’t about who can help you. Because when you network with a “me first” attitude, it comes across as pushy or self-serving. The “me first” mindset is also the reason many people feel like networking is fake and makes them feel uncomfortable/yucky.

Networking virtually or in person is about building mutually beneficial relationships. Both parties walk away feeling like they’ve gained something. That’s what you want to accomplish.

Nurture Existing Relationships

Start reaching out to people you already know – your close friends, family, and colleagues. It’s easier, and you’ll build your confidence. Plus, now is the perfect time to check in on people you care about. Don’t be afraid to make your outreach personal by asking how they are doing and adjusting to the current situation.

Grow New Relationships

Meeting new people online isn’t as hard as you may think. But you do want to have a plan. There are two ways to meet new people – strategically and serendipitously. First, ask yourself who you want/need to meet. These are your strategic targets. They may work in companies you are interested in or hold a position like the one you are interested in. Next, be open to the idea of randomly meeting people. You may share a common interest, a common connection or some other commonality, like you attended the same university, live in the same city, or attended the same conference.

Allocate Time To Network Online

Here’s how to invest just 30 minutes a day to networking online using LinkedIn specifically:

  • Skim your LinkedIn home feed to see what’s being shared
  • Comment on interesting articles related to your industry
  • Re-share articles that relate to your career (but always write something to explain why you are sharing the article)
  • View your notifications for birthdays or work anniversaries and send those connections a message on LinkedIn
  • Find new companies or groups of interest to follow
  • Look for people you may know but haven’t connected with yet.

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