We’ve all been there. You’ve slapped on a name tag, grabbed a snack and set off to face a roomful of strangers in hopes of gaining new professional contacts. Sure, it can be a great way to find your next collaborator or investor, make a career move or meet new colleagues after moving to a new city. But it can also be, well, awkward.
Then you sprinkle in a global pandemic and in-person networking events practically cease. Now what?
For most of us, networking hasn’t stopped, it’s just changed locales. Now, you’re more likely to meet your next boss or business partner online than at a company sponsored mixer. Doing so from the comfort of your own home can be a great way to cut the tension and go into the whole thing a little more relaxed. Just make sure you still do so with intention.
Here’s why e-networking is a good long-term strategy, and how to do it effectively.
Unless you frequently travel for work, your in-person network is limited to where you live. Take your networking online and you have the opportunity to connect with other teams and experts from around the globe.
Take your networking online and you have the opportunity to connect with other teams and experts from around the globe.
It’s a really effective way to get a sense of global trends and best practices that can help you stay ahead of the curve. Especially if you work in tech, it’s essential to be in on the latest releases and tools. Taking that initiative is also bound to make you look like a rockstar at work, potentially helping you network your way to a promotion.
Start your remote job search
If, on the other hand, you’ve decided you’re ready for a new chapter, networking is almost certainly the way to go. In fact, almost 60% of jobs are found that way.
As more companies go remote, they’re likely to have a vested interest in seeing how potential new hires conduct themselves online. Recruiters of these organizations may even start hosting remote networking events just to identify potential candidates.
Use your time efficiently
When you’re running all day every day, there may not even be time to eat a proper lunch, much less navigate traffic in order to get to a networking event on time. Take that meet and greet online and you can work up to the minute it starts. You can also dip out early if you find it’s not a good use of your time and get back to your more pressing deadlines.
It’s a low-risk way to invest your time with the potential for a very high, career-accelerating reward.
Tips for networking remotely
E-networking definitely requires some decorum. If you want your video happy hours and online convos to really gain some traction, try these networking dos and don’ts.
- DO: Connect with peers at a similar professional level.
- DON’T: Focus all your attention on the c-suite or send your resume unsolicited.
- DO: Look for international networking events, even if they’re in different time zones.
- DON’T: Forget to include your existing network in any events you host or attend.
- DO: Offer help, problem solve and share job openings when you see an opportunity.
- DON’T: Attend a networking event just thinking of your own personal gain.
- DO: Update your LinkedIn profile before an event.
- DON’T: Expect it to do the work for you. Engage!
- DO: Dress to impress. It will make a difference in how you conduct yourself.
- DON’T: Forget to check the lighting and test your mic before you sign in.
- DO: Follow and engage with people in companies you’re interested in via social.
- DON’T: Expect to get many responses with cold outreach.
- DO: Write out networking goals and identify people of interest before an event.
- DON’T: Make it all work and no play. Networking should also have a playful element.
You won’t build a professional network overnight, regardless of whether you’re attending events online or in person. Still, knowing how to conduct yourself in either medium will vastly increase your chances of success, even if you’re not currently job hunting.