Career development and networking are some of the key parts to a successful career path. BUT, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it much more challenging to network with others in the ways that we used to. Although networking events that are in-person are coming back into the mix, virtual work and networking events will still remain prevalent moving forward. Personally, I see benefits to both in-person networking and virtual networking and both will be here to stay in the coming weeks, months, and years. Today, I am going to share some tips for networking virtually, tips that I used to help land me my job post-college and continue to develop professionally.
- Use LinkedIn every day that is a workday – Thinking of your 9-5 job as a Monday-Friday reporting for duty role, you can also think of your presence on LinkedIn as the same thing. Even if you simply log onto LinkedIn and scroll through your feed and messages, you will get A LOT out of the platform. You will learn a lot about your company (which you should be regularly following on the site), your colleagues (same idea as your company – CONNECT with them!), and network beyond your day to day folks from simply logging onto LinkedIn. There are so many articles shared on a consistent basis about industry news, your colleagues, empowerment, and others in your network. It is really important to stay up to date on it all and simply making using LinkedIn as apart of your regular routine will help you do just that!
- Be attentive and intentional when using your LinkedIn – When using LinkedIn, pay attention to what posts you like and what links form postings you decide to read. Make sure that, 1, the posts you like are of interest to you, and/or are postings from people in your network that you enjoyed connecting with and want to continue to connect with, whether they be colleagues (ALWAYS interact with colleagues), people in your network who you LOVE to see succeed, or people you would like to expand your network with with having them in it. One cool piece of advice that I got in college was to like and comment on LinkedIn posts from people that you really want to impress and leave a lasting impression on, whether it be working at their company some day, or just knowing that you care about what they’ve been up to professionally. Above all else, remember that a simple like or comment on LinkedIn goes a LONG WAY.
- Use LinkedIn’s search tools to find new connections – Y’all, LinkedIn has some REALLY cool, yet underrated features and tools that you can use to network. One of my favorite tools that I used in college was the tool that presents to you people who have either worked or attended an institution that you either attended or worked/are working at, or are hoping to work at someday. Using this tool, you can filter out people based on their college degree(s), job role, location, and much more. This tool can help you when figuring out what types of jobs people with your degree from your college or company are working in, where these people may live, and what they have been doing since. You can, then, click on the people who may be of interest to your own network’s profiles and can give request to connect with them and reach out to them yourselves. It’s such a great way to network with others and expand your network!
- Search for virtual and in-person conferences and strive to attend – One of the BEST ways to network with others is to attend conferences within your industry. Whether virtual or in-person, conferences are an amazing way to be able to network with others in your industry and learn something super cool and handy in your job, too. Usually, conferences touch on major industry trends and have major industry leaders attending and presenting as well. It’s a great way to be able to connect with others, as both virtual and in-person conferences offer networking opportunities for everyone who attends. And, if not, then most presentations have the presenters’ names and emails on it, with opportunities to contact them with questions or simply connect via email or LinkedIn after their presentation. The best way to find a conference is to Google “your industry” and “conference” and ask colleagues which they have considered attending. Before searching for a potential conference to attend, be mindful that conferences can be expensive to attend, especially if you’re funding it on your own.
- Find virtual professional development sessions, too – Like conferences, there are ALWAYS virtual professional development sessions and webinars given by industry experts. Some webinars and development sessions may come at an extra cost, which is important to note when looking for one. Podcasts are out there for every industry, too, and an awesome budget-friendly option for ANYBODY. Look them up, follow them, and attend/listen regularly (regularly being a term used in retrospect as it can mean once or twice a month, weekly, daily, etc. – whatever YOU CAN manage).
- Perhaps, even join a professional society relevant to your career field – Professional societies are an EXCELLENT way to be able to network with others from potentially across the country and globe. Many professional societies offer conferences, professional sessions, networking events, committees, special interest groups, and much more! I am apart of a professional society that has its own podcast as well. The best way to join one is to ask which one’s your colleagues are apart of and simply research them!
- Learn more about your coworkers via LinkedIn and on your company’s website and ask them about it! – This one goes along with making LinkedIn apart of your weekday workday routine. As you regularly check your LinkedIn, you learn more about your fellow coworkers and can even get links on your company’s website to learn more about what they’ve done. At the same time, one of the BEST ways to make yourself known when it comes to networking is to simply ask your colleagues about their work, what they’ve done, and show your interest. When you present your colleagues with interest in their work, then they will see it and be touched that you cared to ask and want to learn more about them. Perhaps, they may even show it in return someday, too, or someone else will with you down the road!
- Make an effort to connect with someone new often – Whether it be within your company, in your network, or beyond, making a sustained effort to connect with someone new every week, two weeks, month, or however you see as fit will help you network effectively. Many of my tips that were previously noted will be GREAT for helping you do just that! Networking takes ALL kinds and shows up in several different ways and it’s always fun to reach out and meet somebody new. Not only does it help you, but it benefits someone else – someone new in your network.
- Make an effort to maintain your current connections regularly – One of the BEST pieces of advice that I received while networking was to each week shoot a message or share your support for someone within your network. Let them know that beyond your few interactions plus some that you want to still keep them within your network. Networking is ALL about maintaining your connections beyond your encounters from the start. Keep them going and going strong and you’ll be SET!
When networking, it’s important to make a consistent effort with it all. The hard work that you put in will pay off in the long run, if not right now, then down the road – TRUST ME!
XOXO – Katie <3