Times are tough, networking doesn’t have to be.
Networking IRL can be daunting in and of itself but what about in the midst of a pandemic when all networking needs to be done via video? In reality, the strategy behind networking virtually isn’t all that different from networking IRL but there are a few tactical things to consider when networking online. So let’s dive in.
1. Prepare. Build a story.
Who are you? What skills do you bring to the table? What advice & insight do you need? Write it down. And, think about how your skills could translate. Many people are being laid off in industries that will be affected for a while so think about what skills you could take to another industry.
2. Curate a list.
Build a list of people you’d love to connect with both in your industry and outside. If you’re not sure where to start or who should be on your list, break it down by industry, companies you’re interested in, and skills. For example, you might be interested in marketing in the media industry so you might want to look for the Marketing Manager for a media brand you love. Use resources like LinkedIn, Girlboss, Instagram and more to find people who you can reach out to. And, if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, that’s ok too. Let curiosity lead your networking. Pitch someone you can learn from.
3. Tailor your pitch.
When you pitch, be genuine, honest, and compelling. We are in uncertain and uncharted territory so people are more understanding than ever. Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone because you’ve been laid off or feel like you are about to be. Before you pitch, do your research about the person you want to build a relationship with. Instead of reaching out to that person to ask if you can pick their brain, give them a concrete reason why you’d be interested in chatting with them. And if they say yes, be prepared. Do your homework on their background, company, and have questions ready to go.
4. Practice good video conferencing etiquette.
Ok, so let’s say you’re ready to go. You have a couple of people who are willing to connect with you and now it’s time to have a conversation via video. Firstly, use headphones. Why? Sometimes our computers and phones echo and headphones make the sound crisp and clear. Also, ensure you have a clean background. The person on the other side doesn’t need to know you have clothes on the floor or dirty dishes in the sink. Lastly, practice and test your camera beforehand so you don’t end up staring at yourself the entire time.
5. Be proactive. Get creative.
We’re in uncertain times so even if the person you network with doesn’t have a job for you today, maybe they will in the future. While you’re exploring your next move, offer to do a free project to show your skills, follow up with questions and ideas, and continue to build the relationship. And, if you have something to give, give it! Networking is not a one way street.