While in-person shindigs are on hold for the foreseeable future, that doesn't mean professional networking has come to an end. In fact, it might be more important than ever as the coronavirus pandemic puts distance between you and your contacts.So how does one make new introductions and maintain existing relationships in our current state of affairs? Most likely from the comfort of your own home via video conferencing or an old-fashioned phone call. Of course, networking over Zoom may not be quite as effective as the real thing—it can still help you keep your networking game strong for when the pandemic subsides and it's back to business as usual. Here are a few ways you can keep your networking skills on the up and up:
According to networking consultant J. Kelly Hoey, networking is primarily about nurturing relationships.With the self-isolation many are feeling during the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching out to your contacts is even more important and impactful than ever before. Whether you check-in by e-mail, text, or a random phone call, connecting with your established network will reinforce your existing relationships and will keep in the forefront of their minds.
With less in-person networking opportunities, it is only natural to turn your attention to virtual social networking instead.Now is a good time as any to polish your Linkedin page. Interact with your fellow colleagues and others in your field and help bolster your professional presence. While you are at it, seek written recommendations from your contacts, and be sure to return the favor!
It is clear we are in the "Zoom era" now, and it is quite possible that the video conferencing platform will remain a big part of our lives even after it's safe to return to the office.That goes for Zoom networking events, which have proliferated amid the COVID-19 crisis. While at times a bit more awkward than in-person events ("Go ahead", "No, you go ahead."), they have the power of providing face-to-face connections that would otherwise not be possible. One big benefit of virtual networking is the ability to build connections with folks across the country, and even around the world.
Can't find a video networking event?Then put one together! Invite your contacts by sending out a calendar event for your event. The Harvard Business Review recommends sending a guest list to attendees a day or two before the event, so participants can feel somewhat acquainted beforehand. As a host, be prepared to facilitate introductions when your video call begins. Have several "conversation starter" questions at the ready to keep your participants engaged.
A virtual event doesn't have to be specifically for networking in order to connect with others in your field. For example, Fiverr hosts virtual community events on a variety of topics such as freelancing, marketing, sales and more. These events often offer the opportunity to ask questions and interact with folks in your industry.
Perhaps you haven't quite mastered the art of networking, on or offline.If that is the case, now is a good time to consider some career coaching. A professional career coach can help you improve your interview and networking skills. That way when things go back to normal, you'll be ready to take charge.
Now more than ever, you shouldn't hesitate to empathize with contacts new and old.Discussing how they are feeling and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic could help form a deeper personal bond. After all, you can be sure that everyone is dealing with the virus situation in some form or another, so that is some easy common ground that you can establish with a new contact. Keeping the conversation strictly business can make you seem cold and impersonal.
The pandemic has surely limited the ability to have personal interactions with others, which are often essential for advancing one's career or building a business.Fortunately, technology platforms, like Fiverr, made it possible to find work in ways never before possible. Not only is it possible to continue networking in the time of COVID-19, but the impact of building relationships is arguably more essential than ever.