Building a network of professional relationships is key for several reasons- gaining introductions to key partners, building brand awareness, prospecting and offering support to others. Although the way we approach networking may have changed post-pandemic, the outcomes and benefits still exist and if anything, stand to be more important than ever.
Nurture your existing network
Now is a great time to drive opportunities and check in on people by reconnecting with your existing network. After all, building your network is about more than just collecting names, it’s about developing relationships. Plus it’s much easier to reach back out to those you’ve already had conversations with that to start over.
Lead with value
Recognise that you have value to offer people. Remember that networking should be a two-way conversation of giving and taking. Give things away – like sending on relevant article clips or offering helpful information – without looking for something in return. Be interesting and interested, remaining interested in what others have to say and asking questions about the things they care about.
Look for new online networking platforms
You know who else has had to pivot hard during this pandemic? Meetup groups and events platforms. Traditionally, Meetup promoted in-person events and gatherings – ideal networking opportunities both professionally and personally – but the platform has now switched things up to provide online opportunities for meeting new people. They’ve got everything from book clubs to virtual coffee mornings, webinars and specific groups you can join such as remote workers or specific industries. Take time to go beyond the traditional platforms like LinkedIn and explore alternative informal networking channels.
Review your online identity
Whether you like it or not, everyone has a personal brand. As you start dipping your toes back into the networking pool, there’s no better time to check in on yours. When your name is mentioned, which adjectives come to people’s minds? When your name is mentioned, which adjectives would you like to come to mind? Consider how people perceive your online identity. It’s important to keep your professional profiles up to date.
Make it personal
A little empathy can go a long way, particularly in the post-pandemic climate. When reaching out to people it’s ok to mention the pandemic and check in on how they are coping. Find ways to strike the balance of making time to chat and show empathy while networking, allowing you to build rapport from the outset while also remaining respectful of their time and remaining professional.