Whether you’re a business owner, manager or job seeker, maintaining & developing professional connections is important. It’s even more critical now in this time of economic uncertainty, isolation and a dismal outlook for job prospects.
With isolation and physical distancing still essential, now is the perfect time to use virtual networking to keep in touch. Staying connected while things are stagnant allows you to grow and cultivate a network of professionals, coworkers, companies and groups that can help you stay current on industry trends, keep you on top of the job market, and give you the chance to meet potential mentors, employers, partners, recruiters or clients.
Make your time at home productive, here are 4 ways you can stay in touch while staying in and network like a pro!
- Create or update your social networking profiles – Ensure that you’re representing yourself in the best light possible. Remember that prospective employers, colleagues, clients or recruiters will be viewing this information and the more current and relevant, the more professional you will appear. Update your photo, revise your work experience, and make sure to include any additional education or experience that you may have received recently. For professional networking, LinkedIn is the primary option. So having a fully completed, strong LinkedIn profile will help you to easily showcase your professional goals, experiences and achievements that’s likely to get noticed.
- Get familiar with video conferencing – Tools like Zoom, Skype, Facetime and Microsoft Teams are being used to help the world stay connected. Now with minimal in-person meetings and social distancing, using these platforms to keep our networking experiences going is imperative. If you are unfamiliar with how to use these services, there’s plenty of information online that can help get you up to speed. Video conferencing is a great tool to maintain the human connection part of your networking. It’s nice to see an actual person on the other end of your conversation.
- Participate on forums & groups – These are virtual sites where people with shared interests or characteristics can share ideas, views, and information with others. Be an active participant on these platforms. Share knowledge you have, gain insights, introduce yourself to someone you have on your radar and have meaningful conversations. Try joining LinkedIn Groups and get familiar with the content being shared. Participate and share relevant content that other group members are interested in. This can open new networking opportunities around your career and professional industry.
- Reach out and approach new contacts – In addition to maintaining the relationships you currently have, consider extending your circle out to some new contacts you would like to add to your existing network. Take some time to reflect on what professional (or company) that would complement your skillset. Have you always admired the work of a certain individual? Can you identify an industry that you’ve wanted to be a part of or learn more about? How will they add value? Try reaching out and contacting them. LinkedIn is the perfect platform to approach and make these new connections. Before deciding to connect, introduce yourself and consider sharing your reasons for reaching out. Did you meet them in a forum or group? Could you ask for some advice on a specific business issue? Although the thought of this might feel uncomfortable, you may gain a meaningful new connection you would not have otherwise had.
Although the ways we’re able to interact with each other has drastically changed, the art of building relationships is still alive and well. It’s actually almost easier than ever when you consider that you can build connections, grow existing relationships and prospect for jobs all without leaving the comfort of your home. Foster the relationships you already have and take the chance on cultivating some new ones. Your career and professional life will thank you for it.