COVID has made face-to-face activities less frequent, networking included. The days of grabbing coffee or attending industry events have switched to virtual meetings and messaging. Connecting online can be more challenging, but there are certain things to keep in mind when reaching out to help you continue to make meaningful connections and stand out professionally.

Figuring out how to continue networking during this time can be daunting, so here are five tips to help you navigate networking during COVID:

Online Presence

Platforms like LinkedIn are vital for networking even before COVID. Networking now happens almost strictly online, so make sure your LinkedIn profile is consistently updated. Posting regularly, updating your resume often and commenting on posts directly related to your industry are all easy ways to make your account more active, which boosts your chances of being seen by possible connections.

Not only do your professional accounts matter, but your personal social media presence does as well. Potential connections might want to see what you are like beyond a LinkedIn page before meeting you virtually, so keeping your social media accounts friendly and inviting can help establish a good first impression.

Personalize Your Invitations

COVID has affected everyone to some degree this past year, so extending a warm greeting would go a long way in networking. Entrepreneur NEXT states “Approach any networking opportunity as a chance to make a long-term investment in the relationship.” Sometimes networking can feel ingenuine, but it is important to remember that it is a working relationship that deserves an authentic greeting with something like “How are you doing during this tough time?”

Utilize Existing Connections

Welcome to the Jungle’s blog states “People tend to get jobs through their connections’ connections.” It can be more difficult to connect with someone you’ve never met before online due to COVID, but utilizing your connections can make it easier and maybe have a better chance of getting in contact with them.

Reaching out to your existing connections is a great way to grow your network. Networking is all about continuing to meet and connect, so it helps to ask if there is someone else your connection might know in your desired industry.

Consistency

COVID has made messaging people in hopes to connect tough due to crowded emails. It is too easy to get lost in the inbox, so sending follow-up messages is essential for networking during COVID. Not only does it increase your chances of connecting, but it also shows dedication and consistency in order to get what you want.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Virtual connections are not to be treated any differently than an in-person one. If you are meeting them for the first time virtually, keep in mind these steps to make sure your meeting goes smoothly.

1. Do your research

Research is incredibly beneficial for any networking opportunity because it shows you are proactive and prepared. Look up the company and the person you are connecting with to help guide conversation effortlessly.

2. Ask Questions

After doing thorough research, you have the knowledge to think of thoughtful questions to ask during the virtual meeting. Asking questions can help you figure out how this connection can help you down the road and provide the opportunity to get to know the connection better. Don’t forget to take notes!

3. Knock out Technology Issues Beforehand

We’ve been in quarantine long enough to know that using applications like Zoom can have issues at times. Ensure your camera and microphone are working properly before networking to avoid time being wasted for both parties.

4. Dress to Impress

It can be difficult to put on a business casual outfit for an online meeting, but dressing professionally for a connection can help you confidently drive the conversation and make a stellar impression. You wouldn’t roll out of bed to network in person, so you shouldn’t virtually either.

5. Send a Thank You Note

Helping you network is not required for industry professionals. The fact that someone is helping you network is something to be grateful for in growing your professional network. Sending an email saying thank you will go a long way.

Networking is still crucial even during a pandemic. It can be tough not having in-person connections, but technology allows us to still network and create relationships even at a distance. It can open doors to connecting with people abroad and people you might not have originally thought of connecting with. Networking is a constant process, so keep messaging and remember online etiquette to make a lasting impression.

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