We have been working from home since the lockdown at the end of March. Social distancing and remote work look like they will be in place for the foreseeable future. But this does not have to affect your professional prospects through the reduction in networking.
There are many ways which you can continue to network in these unprecedented times. You won’t even have to make a long commute to reach them.
Social Media is King
How better to socialise online than social media? It sounds silly even to say it. There are many different platforms out there; however, LinkedIn will spring to mind. Maybe even Twitter.
There are millions of companies represented on LinkedIn and hundreds of millions of members from 200 countries. This makes it the perfect platform to network and find opportunities.
Digital services and infrastructure will be the prominent are the future. The best part is LinkedIn is so easy to use as you can introduce yourself and connect with someone through filtering the search bar by industry, location or company name (and more).
This is also a messaging platform so you can ask questions and gain insight from business professionals.
You can also be regularly updated about new vacancies and opportunities through email updates, so you do not even have to look through them yourself. An algorithm can do this for you.
Further, Twitter has over 1 billion accounts. On this platform you can follow people whose views you are interested in and have a newsfeed filled with information relevant to you and your interests. You can also message and search users to contact here, although Twitter is not primarily used as a business social network.
Hashtag threads are also a great way to get information and stay informed.
Cold emailing might not always seem like an option you are keen to pursue. Yet, it can have impressive results.
However, this needs to be personal. The respondent needs to understand that you are interested in them and why specifically. Understand what projects they have been a part of, if they have similar views on a topic or if they are active on one of the social media accounts mentioned above.
It is important to remember that all correspondence is digital now, people will have crowded inboxes and will be busy with their individual businesses. When I write an email, I like to think about how much I would appreciate their time and frame a message around this feeling.
As there is no social media profile to check in an email, you must sell yourself and your credibility as you contact them.
I have been guilty of writing emails which are WAY too long, and no one would get to the bottom of (not even me) so short and sweet is the best.
Make it memorable (and not because you used a template)
Visit Virtual Events
If you are working remotely, you will already be familiar with Zoom or Microsoft Teams with virtual meetings. Why not extend this to networking also.
In these virtual events, you can share your knowledge, market a product or just maintain informed on the current state of business or industry.
Here are the 3 main types of virtual events which are taking place:
- Virtual conferences
- Virtual roundtables
If you type any of these into a Google search, loads of results will appear for you to browse through.
Skype (Teams) or Zoom
If you like chatting to people and prefer those virtual events, rather than striking up a conversation on LinkedIn or email, this might be a good alternative.
This will require some form of structure, but it could be organised with a presentation or a general plan of action.
Networking will not stop because of lockdown and it might even be more fun than attending an event. You would be able to contact more people than those in your local area and will not even have to commute. It might even be the future of networking so get on board