Eight Tips for Effective Virtual Networking
We use traditional networking to engage in conversation, give elevator pitches, and exchange business cards. People are social distancing and working from home because of COVID. However, we still need successful networking to meet people and add value. Through virtual networking, you could learn about a job opening, find a mentor, or meet a future client at home.
- Clarify goals and objectives—Establish your networking goal. Do you want to expand your connections? Are you trying to grow your business or advance in your company? Make a career change? Define your reason for reaching out to people so that you don’t waste time.
- Reach out to your network—Check in with your contacts. People you know through online networking and in your existing professional circle might have full plates during this uncertain time. Use social media or email as the first point of contact. Call or video chat if it is encouraged by your connection.
- Search for online networking opportunities—Professional organizations and alumni groups host online networking events so people can connect safely. Interact with like-minded people in Facebook or LinkedIn groups. Learn and share new skills and job search tips.
- Schedule virtual meetings—Send a follow up email to those you meet during virtual networking events. Email your strongest professional connections at least once every quarter. Don’t just reach out when you have a favor but to stay engaged and build a professional relationship.
- Network with your manager and colleagues—Solid work performance and being enjoyable to work with will delight your team. Impress people while working from home with communication, time-management, independence and prioritization. Take the initiative and check in more often. Keep them updated on your projects, work assignments and deadlines. Ask if there is anything else you can do.
- Follow up with the hosts of webinars, podcasts and blogs— Attending a webinar, virtual conference, listening to a podcast or reading a blog post could generate job leads, business contacts and coaching. Take advantage of opportunities to ask questions. Send a follow up email.
- Ask for informational interviews—An informational interview is either: 1) Meeting a professional working in the organization or industry you are interested in, 2) meeting an individual in your ideal position and asking how they got their start. Do your homework and learn how to properly conduct an informational interview.
- Attend a virtual job fair—Virtual job fairs increased because of COVID-19. Dust off your resume and sign up for an upcoming fair. Depending on the fair, you could hear from the hiring managers about company culture, overall goals and types of candidate qualifications. Follow up with the hosts or hiring managers.