Networking used to involve going to job fairs or convention centers, trying to walk around and shake hands, talk to everyone, and come away with a stack of business cards.
Well, we know now that in-person isn’t the only way to do things if the last year of 2020 taught us anything.
So we wanted to breakdown some methods that you can use to network virtually.
What is Networking?
Networking is something we were always told to do, but was it ever really explained to us past the surface level of what we assume that it means?
In my experience, it isn’t really, yet we’re all supposed to be doing it.
Networking, at its most fundamental level, is connecting with others in your field of business or the field of business you want to enter into. That sounds much less intimidating to me than five paragraphs explaining to you the origin of the concept.
Now there are a lot of benefits to what to do once you have networked with others, but we will get into that later.
For now, let’s review some of the best ways to network...
Networking From Your Home.
Attending Virtual Professional Conferences and Events.
In most circumstances, events like these will be organized by your education establishment with the intention to connect their students, you, to employers already developed in the field.
However, there will be instances where this isn’t the case or that you are already in the workforce, and here you may have to investigate events that are being held online through other organizations.
Most company events can be found through a simple google search, as can most things nowadays. Searching for them may prove a little difficult, however, due to their main events page not typically being optimized for google or for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
In cases like this, feel free to go to the company or organization’s website directly and navigate to their events page.
Don’t Be Nervous About Asking For Contact Information or Nervous About Showing Too Much Interest.
This is one of the number one reasons why people may not be getting the most out of their networking opportunities, and it is vital to ensure this is being expressed.
It is important to remember that everyone at conferences, or meetings, or networking events is there to network as well. They are there to help other people by meeting everyone they can, and that is including you.
Don’t be nervous to reach out, and ask them for their contact information to keep in touch after. Being connected with others may lead you to your career and dream position, and that would all be because you were courageous and took the first steps that you could.
Find Your Mentor.
One of your main objectives when networking should be trying to find a mentor.
The mentor you are trying to find is going to be someone who has the following:
- They have multiple years in your field.
- They are open to sharing their knowledge with you.
- They have been in your position before.
- They are understanding of the questions you may have.
- They want you to succeed.
- They don’t see you negatively, such as a threat, and only wish you the best.
- They want to teach you.
While this may seem daunting at first, especially when you don’t feel like you know anyone as it is, it is important to remember that most people want to help others, especially others they can relate to.
Have you ever heard the question: “What was something you wished you knew five to ten years ago?”
Well, most people are willing to share all of that knowledge with you if they can relate to your position, like searching for your first or next job. They remember the same struggle, and now they are in a position to be able to help, and more often than not, they will be willing to do so.
Networking On Social Media.
We decided to start with LinkedIn because it is considered the powerhouse of networking. There are a couple of methods to use when trying to reach out via LinkedIn.
Start with your mutuals. What do we mean by that? Start going through people who have graduated from your same program or university to find connections. These kinds of connections are probably going to be some of your strongest possible, no matter how long you have been in the industry. Reaching out to other Alumni will lead to a strong connection.
Join groups on LinkedIn that are meant for people already in the industry. Joining groups like these are like always having access to a networking conference. You can engage with people individually or reach out to other members via a message or connect request. Your likelihood of being accepted as a connection will drastically increase when you mention that you are both members of the same group.
Consider premium. Their premium career account allows you to directly message people that you aren’t connections with and reach out to recruiters directly for companies you may be interested in pursuing. Even if you are not looking for a position at the moment, having the connection with the individual that conducts the hiring process will always be valuable.
Clubhouse has been growing in popularity over the past few months since its creation, and you’re not to blame if you have never heard of it.
It is an invitation-only to join audio-chat social media platform. Most commonly, this is used by professionals in the industry that can join audio rooms and all speak with each other. From speaking with real estate investors that have been in Forbes to entire clubs centered around an industry like the “Dentists Club.”
Clubhouse requires that everyone use their legal name and attach it to their legitimate social media profiles to ensure the authenticity and ability to network.
Whether you are talking to Lex Friedman, an advisor to Elon Musk, or Ryan Reynolds, a Canadian-born actor, everyone’s opinion is welcomed and listened to.
If you aren’t a member, feel free to download the app and create your account. If anyone you have in your contacts is on the app, they will be given the ability to approve your request for entry if they still have some of their limited amount of invites left.
Facebook is one of the largest social media giants at the time of writing this, so it is important to know how to take advantage of this unlimited supply of people that are on the platform.
Here are some of the steps we would recommend following:
- Create a Business friends list for easy sorting. You can do this being going to your “Friends Lists” section and creating a new one from there.
- Ensure that most of your privacy settings are just that, private.
- Use an appropriate and professional profile picture. Think between LinkedIn and Instagram.
- Have your work experience filled out. If you have it on LinkedIn, have it on Facebook.
- Join groups. Similar to how we spoke about LinkedIn, give yourself the most access you can by surrounding yourself with other professionals that you can interact with.
- Try to post an introduction to every group that you join.
- Be careful of what you have posted, and know that everyone that you connect with will be able to see it once you friend them.
- Start filtering new posts by the separate business friends list that we made.
- Use messenger significantly less on Facebook, as you would on LinkedIn. Most professionals do not want to be pitched to on their personal Facebook, so understand the mindset.
So I’ve Networked. Now What?
So we now have an awesome list of other individuals that we have built a professional relationship, so what do we do now? Well...
Land Your Dream Job
It is important to remember that we already put in the legwork of building and fostering a relationship with these individuals, so our pitch no longer needs to be about our resume.
It’s more of a soft pitch because we already have a step up on competitors because of our networked connection.
After you have expressed your interest in a position, make sure that you follow up based on whatever you spoke about in the most recent conversation.
Being referred to the hiring manager by someone internal is the second best thing to an offer itself. Make sure you utilize your connections.
So you have made some awesome connections, and you got a referral to the hiring manager!
Are you prepped for the next interview, or are you a little unsure what to expect? Don’t worry; we’re here to help! Check out some of these resources to make sure that you’re prepared to ace your interview!