This blog is a guest post from Gabrielle Gardiner, it coordinates with Jacob Morgan’s interview titled The Future Leader: Skills and Mindsets to Succeed in the Next Decade that aired on January 12, 2021.
Since networking digitally is the only way to connect with potential mentors, business partners, and peers these days, it needs to be a priority. To succeed in your online networking efforts, you need to be both tenacious and conscientious. Take a look at our seven tips to help you level up your networking game in the wake of the pandemic.
1) Update Your Online Presence
Especially in today’s tough job market, your networking skills are essential to finding the position that’s right for you. Make sure your LinkedIn and your professional references are updated. After all, your professional contacts are strategic partners in your job search. However, you don’t want to be caught asking for a reference without having talked to someone for a year or two. Your network will help you immensely, but only if you keep up your relationships.
2) Look Beyond Linked-In
Maybe LinkedIn is your go-to social network right now, but why not diversify the platforms you use? There are plenty of alternatives for professional networking that are merely a Google search away. Whether you’re a web developer or a fashion designer, you’ll find niche social networking platforms that you might not have realized existed. It’s worth your while to dedicate extra effort to find networking opportunities beyond the basics like LinkedIn.
3) Reconnect to Your Advantage
Now is the time to reconnect with your professional contacts and polish your personal brand so you can forge new connections. Digital networking’s lack of geographic barriers opens up a plethora of exciting opportunities. Take advantage of it! There has never been a more important time to participate in online conferences, webinars, digital workshops, and more. Check out the graphic below for actionable tips on how to thrive while networking online in the wake of the pandemic.
4) Attend Virtual Conferences + Other Events
Although you won’t be able to enjoy in-person connections at conferences any time soon, it’s just as effective to engage with speakers and fellow attendees through a virtual conference. These digital conferences usually have easy-to-use platforms or apps. There’s a level playing field for post-conference networking. There’s no pressure for in-person lunches or follow-up coffee dates because everyone is networking online. With clever communication strategies, you have just as much of a chance of getting noticed by an industry leader as anyone else.
5) Participate in Free Webinars
Regardless of your industry or stage of your career, participating in webinars is always worth it. You get the opportunity to network with fellow participants and industry leaders like you would at a conference, but usually in a smaller group. Be sure to introduce yourself in the chat channel. Participate in the corresponding webinar chat conversation. Also, there is almost always a Q&A portion of the webinar, which presents a great opportunity to stand out. Be sure to share what you learned from or appreciated about the webinar on LinkedIn or Twitter after the webinar, too.
6) Sign up for an Online Course
Most online courses involve a cost, but they’re a great way to both build skills and connect with like-minded peers in your field. Also, the accompanying Slack communities where fellow students or graduates of a program can connect and share ideas is a goldmine for networking. When you sign up for a workshop, coding bootcamp, or other course you’ll automatically join a cohort of people who are serious about learning and self-improvement. Who knows, you might even find yourself interested in a new career path.
7) Join Online Professional Associations
Although there is usually a membership fee, the immediate networking opportunities with like-minded people and leaders in your field make the cost worth it. In a digital format, professional associations can offer access to exclusive online resources and notify you first about virtual conferences. Industry-specific organizations are a great way to meet leaders in your niche and possibly find a mentor.
Virtually conveying your expertise, personality, and soft-skills in an authentic way is easier said than done. Maintaining your current professional connections is not always a simple task while everyone is working remotely. Stay consistent with your networking efforts despite the challenge, and your work will definitely pay off in the end.
Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.
About the Author
Gabrielle Gardiner is an NYC-based content creator who enjoys writing helpful articles about professional development for companies like LiveCareer. She’s passionate about sharing her insights to empower people to succeed in their careers.