You've probably heard the adage, "It's not what you know; it's who you know." While experience and skills are crucial for success, meeting people with connections can jumpstart your career. Of course, with many workplaces going virtual, you need a new approach to networking. Fortunately, you can form lasting business relationships with these virtual networking tips.
Engage in Weekly Coffee Chats
Coffee chats offer several benefits:
Chance to get to know someone in a more informal setting
Opportunity to connect without the pressure of a project deadline
Chance to learn more about an industry or company
As you probably guessed, coffee chats are relatively short meetings (around half an hour) where you talk to someone one-on-one. While coffee is the usual beverage choice, you can have tea, soda, or anything else work-appropriate.
Initially, coffee chats took place in person, but with Zoom, you can meet virtually with people from across the globe. For a productive virtual coffee chat, try the following:
Get your equipment set up at least 15 minutes beforehand.
Compliment your partner, but don't go overboard.
Be bold and ask questions.
You should also do a little research before the meeting. Doing so helps you ask interesting questions that keep the conversation flowing. If you're nervous about the chat, write down a few questions or topics you want to cover and keep your list near your computer.
Make the Most of Linkedin
Linkedin is one of the best social media platforms for virtual networking. The site focuses on business development, creating an environment where users can contact one another in a professional setting.
Of course, you still need to consider your words carefully when reaching out. For the best results on Linkedin, keep the following tips in mind:
Join applicable groups
Create a unique and informative profile
Post content that invites people to engage
Comment on other people's posts
Additionally, update your profile every so often. Even if you don't have a new job or promotion to report, freshening up your bio appeals to algorithms and shows that you care about how you present yourself.
Don't Forget the People You Have Connected With
Meeting new people is critical for building your professional network, but you must also put energy toward maintaining those relationships. Like other relationships, networking is about give and take. If you go radio silent for a year, then pop up in an acquaintance's messages when you need something, that isn't a good look. Instead, you need to nurture connections for benefits down the line.
Staying in touch is easier said than done, especially when busy. However, even small gestures can help you stay connected:
Send a brief message
Schedule a lunch date
Forward an interesting article
Recommend a good book
Don't Forget To Learn New Things
Learning new skills is an excellent way to expand your horizons and meet new people. If your company offers webinars, sign up for something exciting or entirely new to you. Many webinars provide opportunities to chat with fellow participants through icebreaker activities or introductions. Make a note of people you instantly connect with and ask for contact information, such as a social media profile so that you can talk with them later.
You can also pursue professional development, such as taking an online class or getting certifications. Educational environments foster engagement and group projects help identify people's strengths.
You should continually work on your virtual networking skills, just like you would any other ability. Practice the above tips and watch for new ways to connect with others. If you put in the effort, you'll soon have a robust network that can propel you toward your goals.