By Tammy S. Robbins, StandOut Resumes
With events and travel plans postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to lose momentum in your career development and relationship building efforts. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to stay connected and keep your career goals on track from your home office. Here are a few virtual networking tips to help you branch out professionally even when you’re stuck inside.
Widen Your Net
Joining a variety of different networking websites and using online forums raises your visibility and enables you to make new contacts that you might not have the opportunity to meet in person.
- In addition to LinkedIn, consider signing up for platforms like Ryze and Gadball, too. Ryze users organize themselves by interests, location, and current and past employers. Members get a free profile page where they list hobbies, previous jobs, and future career interests, and they can contact one another by sending private messages or by leaving notes in a guest book area on each page. GadBall, a LinkedIn alternative with over a million job postings, features career assessments and informational videos, and offers free job postings to all employers and recruiters. GadBall has also built integrations with other websites, including Facebook and Twitter, to help you share your profile and career expertise to a wider audience. Check out this Lifewire post for more on social networks for business.
- Spend some time reaching out on various forums such as Meetup, Twitter, and Reddit. Reddit is a social sharing website divided into thousands of smaller communities called subreddits, and it is made up of very strong and smart communities of people who discuss topics they love while sharing links, photos, and videos. This article on MakeUseOf.com offers easy-to-follow guideline for joining and participating in Reddit communities. Meetup, which has 49 million registered and 230,000 organizers, is an effective platform for finding and building local communities that allows users to organize both virtual and in-person get-togethers with people who share similar hobbies and work interests. Meetup can easily be used to extend professional reach and raise your personal visibility, and it is particularly effective if you are hoping to connect with small businesses or those in narrow markets.
Do it Right
Before you begin casting a wider net, make sure you have filled out your professional networking profiles as thoroughly as possible. You are only going to get out of this what you put in. Also, don’t connect with just anyone. Make a list of 5 to 10 people who you’d like to get to know better, and reach out to them on social media. In addition to connecting on LinkedIn, follow their company pages and see what they’re posting. Make it personal. Generic messages are easy to spot and hard to forgive. Find appropriate ways to engage with your target contacts, such as retweeting their posts, answering a question they may ask on LinkedIn, or sharing a thoughtful response to one of their posts or updates.
Reconnect with People You Already Know
Former colleagues, classmates, distant family members, and past neighbors can usually be easily found on social media, and reconnecting with those existing contacts is typically easier than establishing new ones. In addition to interacting with them, try being a resource. Reach out to old connections, ask how they’re doing, and offer to help them in some way. They will remember that you checked in, and in the future, if you call in a favor, they will be more likely to respond in kind.
The current pandemic may make finding a new job more difficult, but, since no one is traveling, it has also created a captive audience for networking. Virtual networking is a great way to strengthen current professional ties and cultivate new ones, which will pay off when life gets back to “normal.”