Networking? Now? You’ve got to be kidding right? The traditional business paradigm has shifted with the arrival of the Covid19. Here’s how to sharpen your virtual networking during Coronavirus.
Social networking platforms are an increasingly popular career tool. In the current climate, they present an opportunity to connect with peers, potential employers, new opportunities and clients on a global level. But how do you begin to take what was once offline into the online realm?
The rules of virtual networking are surprisingly similar to face to face interactions. Before you begin, ask yourself a few key questions:
- What do I want to achieve?
- What’s my purpose?
- Who do I want to meet?
- Why am I networking?
- How do I intend to follow up?
Virtual Networking & First Impressions
Your online profile is your representation of who you are and what you do. It’s your cyber calling card. Think of it as the first impression that others, including potential employers and clients see. Consider how accurate is it and what are you trying to convey.
Keep your virtual networking profile brief. Four of five sentences that explain who you are and what you do. Scripting your introduction in advance will give you the opportunity to curate a virtual profile that works. Create an essential 60-second pitch before you begin, freeing up your headspace to engage on a deeper level.
Your Virtual Calling Card
Before you start:
- What do you want to project?
- What are you trying to achieve?
- Who you are
- What you do
- Highlight your most impressive achievements, clients or services so that people get an idea of what you do
Your potential new network will make an assessment of who you are based on what you’ve told them and how you’ve said it.
Consider the photograph you choose, the language you use, how you describe yourself and what you do. Keep it positive and authentic. The next time someone skims over your profile, the chances are they’ll have a pretty good idea of the person behind it….and whether or not they want to connect with you.
Now you’ve designed your own calling card, how are you going to find out about others?
Research who the influencers are in your field. Create a list and start to follow them. Read what they are writing. Listen to what they are saying and then comment. Follow online conversations for a week or two to get a sense of what they’re all about. See what others are saying, watch how they contribute and then plan your next step.
Investigate who your influencers are connected to and connect with them. Known as ‘social proof’ this moves you one step closer to those you are seeking to network with, adding to your credibility. Rather than ‘stepping stones’ these connections can be a valuable part of your network. Get to know them. Help them. Virtual networking means that you can access and connect with influencers in your field in a way that wouldn’t be possible in person so take advantage of it. Join in the conversation.
If your opening line is asking for something, the relationship is going to be fairly short-lived. Just like in the real world asking for something before you’ve established a relationship is a huge no and dare we say it, a tad presumptuous.
Think of networking online as an opportunity to help others rather than wondering what you can get out of it. The right attitude will pay dividends. Become a connector, introduce people, offer to help someone else with your expertise or experience. Sending links to articles you’ve seen or offering advice to others. Share research articles or blogs and copy the authors in. What goes around comes around and by helping others you’re building relationships. This is your reputation online. Hit and run with a request for help straight away and you’ll damage your brand and switch people off.
Now you’ve identified your influencers what are you going to ask them? Be strategic and consider what your goals are before you begin.
- Do you want to know about:
- Possible career paths
- Areas of expertise
- Future developments
- Global events in your profession
- New research
Remember to keep your questions open rather than closed allowing the conversation to flow. It sounds obvious but often we’re so busy trying to impress that we forget to listen. You should be aiming for a speaking/listening ratio of roughly 70% listening time. Be authentic. Be interested.
This is one of the most crucial steps in virtual networking and at the same time one of the most neglected. You’ve done the legwork, made your connection, now what next? This is where the real relationship begins. Just like with an offline friendship, maintain and nurture your new connection by:
- Remembering to send birthday cards
- Introducing your connection/their work to others
- Sending articles or books that you know they’ll be interested in
- A simple email with ‘Saw this and thought of you….’
- Providing testimonials or reviews of their work
- Be helpful. Ask yourself what you can do for your network and the rest will follow.
Most organisations are new to working in a virtual world. If you are looking for ways to support your newly remote team, Koru Development provide bespoke weekly online resilience and stress management sessions along with coaching, online resilience training courses and leadership resilience coaching.