By: Makenzie Chilton, Career Coach at Love Your Mondays & Katelyn Powell
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know – you’ve heard that before, I’m sure. Networking WELL is, without a doubt, critical for career advancement and success. But what does that look like in a pandemic?
When COVID-19 happened, numerous day to day activities – such as office work, studying, and shopping – shifted online. People are tired of being stuck at home all day, and this “virtual mode” added certain comforts to an otherwise uncomfortable and tiring time. Shifting to online formats cut down on the cost of commuting and time spent transitioning to and from work, school or other activities. This allowed people to realign their life goals and spend more effort on self-improvement courses and learning new skills. Online learning also allowed many people to rediscover old passions and skills they previously had no time to practice.
COVID-19 has effectively changed how we interact, behave, and connect with others.
Here Are Three Ways to Network Effectively Post-covid-19 Without Leaving Your Home:
1. Be upfront about your goals and intentions online.
First, take advantage of the benefits of online networking. Reaching out to like-minded professionals now only requires an online presence and little to no monetary investment. Additionally, you don’t have to move around your schedule to make time for coffee or lunch meetings. Instead, a simple email or direct message can be sent (and received), then responded to at the convenience of both parties. This has greatly increased productivity as people re-focus on the real content of the message and create a meaningful outcome.
The ease of sending a quick message communicating your goals is a huge benefit to digital networking.
2. Join Facebook or LinkedIn groups of like-minded professionals
Secondly, another advantage to online networking with peers is that you can easily find groups with a common interest. Searching for other career-minded groups in your area on Facebook or finding professional associations or groups on LinkedIn is so easy. Why is this effective? Connecting with people who work in the same industry or have common career aspirations makes them more likely to WANT to interact with you. This is a great way to kickstart a new job search, fill your own hiring needs, or seek out advice about alternate career paths you might be interested in.
This develops a mutually-beneficial online relationship that can lead to collaborations at a larger level.
3. Be a support system to the people you engage with online
Lastly, remember that it’s okay to reach out to people on LinkedIn that you don’t know personally or from an online group. LinkedIn and Facebook are MADE for connections. To be more effective when growing your digital network, make sure to add a personalized message when you send an invite. When thinking about what to write, consider offering your own help. You want to make sure that your digital networking is of mutual benefit, a two-way street.
Offer your time and advice where applicable, and it will be returned to you down the line. Networking is meant to be a partnership.
It’s no secret that building networks and social capital takes time and effort. You can’t just click send on a message to someone and expect them to be on the same page with you overnight. However, thanks to online learning and online courses, people are engaging. Now is the time to build and engage with your network.
Give it a try yourself – I challenge you today to approach someone on LinkedIn or another professional network. If you follow the tips above, I think you’re likely to get a positive response with genuine interest. Good luck!
Speaking of networking … Are you looking to network with a group of like-minded rising leaders? Try the Invited MBA.
I participated in the Invited MBA during the pandemic and was part of the Fall 2021 cohort. The Invited MBA has continued to be truly transformative. Since the program is 100% virtual and team-based, I was curious to see how networking would play out throughout the program.
I was pleasantly surprised! It exceeded my expectations by making networking EASY and DOABLE.
When I first started the program, I automatically assumed an element of personal interaction and connection-building would be missing. But instead, just like humans have evolved to overcome countless other challenges in the past two years, I truly found benefit from the online network and built meaningful connections with other students of the Invited MBA program.