Building professional relationships can be vital to finding strong mentors, discussing industry trends with peer groups, sharing skills and expertise and moving up the career ladder.
In 2021, because of Covid-19, conferences and networking events are cancelled and in-person meetings over coffee will be limited. Luckily, networking and relationship building opportunities remain available. With a little creative proactivity, you can create relevant and valuable professional connections and expand your network remotely.
1. Leverage your existing connections.
You are more connected than you think! Consider your current or past mentors, advisors, roommates, friends and family, connections you made at a pre-Covid event. Begin to reach out to the closest in your network, even inside your organization, let them know your situation and what you would like to do. Start with a casual introduction and discussion, the two-way conversation will lead to productive and informative dialogue. What are they doing, what do they hear within their networks? Ask them to introduce you to contacts in their network and offer to do the same.
2. Engage on social media.
Engage and network on your digital platforms. Update your information on Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook, as these platforms are designed to network. Be proactive, share links to content on industry trends, data, news articles, online events and informative webinars. When you promote your brand, use relevant keywords, photos, videos, professional experiences, online publications to support your social media presence. Take advantage of the recommendation feature on Linkedin. Reach out to industry colleagues or customers for a brief recommendation to help promote your brand. Always offer to write one in return.
3. Prepare for the meeting.
Take time to prepare in advance of any meeting, whether a phone conversation or video call. Research the company and person you are scheduled to meet, even if you are in the same organization or industry. Review the company website, business segments, news and social media pages, Your goal is to maximize the time with them wisely, have questions prepared and listen to their feedback. You don’t want to waste time discussing topics you could have easily researched online or have them explain the company products and services to you.
In addition, it is a good idea to prepare as if you were meeting face-to-face. Avoid the casual t-shirt call from your bed. Take the extra effort when you network remotely as you would in-person.
4. Make new connections.
Feel comfortable to network with people outside your industry. Network diversity offers insight into the challenges and opportunities people face in other industries, how they work with cross-functional teams and the decisions they make. Conduct informative interviews, as these are a great way to network and get a foot in the door with an organization or a person you would like to know better.
Now is the perfect time.
Everyone is in a similar situation. The important take away, stay active and intentional. Take advantage of the wide range of tools available to help facilitate remote engagements. Set attainable goals, for example, in three weeks connect with 10 people over email, Zoom or phone. Enjoy the time while you expand your network, as it takes time and effort, but with an organized plan you will easily promote your brand strengths and value.