2020 is the Year everyone learned to Network Virtually
Networking in person is hard enough, but knowing how to network virtually can be extremely difficult. I would liken it to cold calling. There aren’t too many people around that think cold calling is the best thing since sliced bread. I am not a fan. But, networking virtually is not anywhere near as hard as cold calling. In fact, I promote the theory that to network virtually can help you warm up cold calls.
Let’s examine my list of options:
- Sign up for LinkedIn – and not only sign-up but get some help to optimize your profile (hint – I can help you with that.) LinkedIn is the largest professional network. At the time of this writing, there were 690M+ users on the platform with 169M+ in the US. Click here for the current stats. Granted there are a bunch of duplicate profiles out there because people forget how to access or lose access, but this gives you a huge pool of professionals from which to choose to build your personal network.
- Build the relationships you have – networking is akin to marketing. You need to get your name out in front of people for them to remember who you are. Use the tools at your disposal in Facebook or LinkedIn to be in touch. Wish people happy birthday, congratulate them on work anniversaries, promotions, or new positions. If you see an article that may be of interest to someone share it and tag that person in the comment.
- Take it off-line – building upon the last comment above, if you see something really compelling to share with someone, send it in an email AND, take it off line and make a phone call to talk to the person about your idea.
- Text – if you don’t have time for a phone conversation, send a text. Schedule a chat for later.
- Physical to Virtual Networking – many groups have had to change from meeting in person to meeting over one of the many apps available these days. You may be “Zoomed” out, but it is a great way to continue to keep your presence in front of your network.
- Allocate Time – did you meet someone in a webinar or virtual networking meeting? Can’t meet in-person for a “coffee meeting”? Try to schedule something virtually. So many options are available: Zoom, Google Hangouts or Google Meet, Facetime for iPhone users, What’s App, and Facebook Messenger all give you free options to hold a video meeting. Then there are the other platforms that are subscription based – Zoom, WebEx, Adobe Connect and so many others. Take the time to schedule a virtual sit-down with someone new.
- Tweetchats – This is an opportunity to participate in a forum type conversation in certain industries. Here is a schedule to check. Get to know who people are by their Twitter handle, AND in the meantime, learn some new things in your industry.
- Meet new people – so the people you met in the Tweetchat – perhaps connect with them on LinkedIn. You never know what sort of business relationship might develop. Use the advanced search functions to look for 2nd degree connections on LinkedIn who seem interesting and may be able to provide guidance, leadership, or information, OR just be someone worth having a chat with virtually.
- Join Groups – this is a good idea in person and virtually. Find a group on Meet-Up, LinkedIn, Facebook or Eventbrite. Other organizations that are career related may have a virtual presence as well. Participate in virtual conversation threads and when possible attend in-person events.
Now that you have a few tools to try, it may be easier to network virtually. I always say, “It isn’t about who you know, but who they know!” When you are talking with your existing network, take the extra step and ask if they know anyone to whom they could recommend you. Pay it forward and introduce your connections to someone that could use their talent or service. Now go, spread your wings and your network virtually!