Networking is a key piece of growing and maintaining a successful career. But are we connecting effectively with other professionals now that we rely on online networking platforms? People are connectors and no person is an island, no matter how much we sometimes try to be.
Reality of Networking
I don’t know about you, but when I first started “networking” it was a clunky and awkward experience at the very best. I would attend events, try to small talk and leave with a handful of business cards which I knew I would do nothing with!
Although it wasn’t great, at least it was a start!
When it comes to COVID-style networking, we have a whole new challenge on our hands. Online networking events, conferences and seminars are available with the click of a button! Yet just because they are available doesn’t mean that we know how to use them effectively. To meet new professionals, we all need to adapt our networking techniques!
The 4 Online Networking Tips
1. Know Why You Are Attending the Event!
Knowing your motivation is a critical part of networking – and it shouldn’t be “to get a job”. It is critical to attend events because a topic interests you or to be an active member in a community. People are intuitive, and will figure out your misplaced motives. This is especially true if you are unable to communicate any value or interest in the topic at hand. Make sure that you are able to answer a question about why you value the theme of the event, or what you hope to learn. Video calls and online events lack body language cues, so communicating confidently is vital. This will build rapport with your new connection and result in a stronger bond.
2. Get Connected
Write down the names of people that you interact with during the event and add them on LinkedIn. A compliment received in a connection request is flattering and usually received well. There are so many reasons to reach out to people! Send a message to someone who asked a great question of the speaker and tell them what you learned from the answer. Genuine kindness is one of the best way to connect with others both online and off. People want to feel valued, and there is no better time to do that than at the beginning of the relationship.
3. Build Your Reputation
Interact with your LinkedIn connections’ posts as much as you can.
To build familiarity with your name:
- add a comment into an interesting debate
- thank someone for posting an article
- provide recommendations for peers and endorse skills
This begins to develop a positive reputation with your connections as well as the indirect network of people that your peers know. These are second or third degree connections on LinkedIn. Avoid spam by ensuring your interactions are sincere and thoughtful. When the time comes to add someone to your network (in person or online), they will be indirectly familiar with you and be more inclined to connect. If you become a valuable member of the LinkedIn Community, people may even start to add you!
4. Follow Up!
Always follow up with a quick thank-you note to the event organizers, and to the people you met. Going back to point number 2, people love appreciation. If you have access to the email addresses of attendees, don’t hesitate to use it! Event organizers build time into zoom meetings and webinars to allow for networking in small groups. It is especially important to follow up after these personal conversations. Well-timed and sincere thank you notes will be well received. They help to reiterate the positive interaction between you and your new contact!
What Really Matters
The key to networking (both online and offline) is sincerity and genuineness. The most successful networkers build their reputation by making people feel valued. Following these tips will help you to connect with others online! Successfully networking will move your career or your business forward.