Typically, many of us network through conferences, corporate events, industry mixers or dinners. The present situation leaves much to be desired when it comes to networking opportunities. However, we can still ‘virtual network’ through the array of tools available to us in this day and age. So how can you make and sustain professional relationships during this time?
We all know a well-developed Linkedin profile will help formulate the positive first impression you want business relations to have of you. So a good first step is to make sure it’s well updated and ready for profile views from prospective contacts. It is also beneficial to use other social media such as Instagram or Behance – particularly for creatives or those in the visual arts. They are great platforms to showcase your work, connect with people in your industry and also recruit creatives. Simply commenting on something you like may intrigue someone to get in touch or revert back with feedback on your work. Discover platforms in your industry that people use to showcase their work or get in touch with likeminded individuals. However, this is not the only way to expand your network. Below we explore some other things you can do to adapt to virtual networking.
Cancelled conference? No problem.
Many of us are accustomed to networking via conferences, business lunches or other corporate events. However, these have hardly been the norm given the present situation. However, you can still use them to meet people. Take a look at the list of the speakers that were due at the conference and connect with those you were most intrigued to get in touch with. A cursory email or Linkedin message is enough to let them know you are open for a virtual coffee. They might also guide you to a virtual event they may be hosting and keep you in the know. Looking at the guest list, if openly available, is also a great resource of possible connections.
Location is no longer a limitation.
Virtual networking means that the world is your oyster. You can host a meeting with someone in the US in the afternoon, and another one with someone else in China later that day. There are no boundaries to who you can meet and when. Whilst before we would drop a message saying “Get in touch when you’re around”, now it is a case of simply sending a link to a Zoom meeting and logging in.
Think tanks and Group work.
As industry leaders may have more time on their hands in a slower economy, getting someone on board for a 15-minute appearance on a virtual meet is not an impossibility. Invite industry leaders to share their insights with a group of colleagues or connections and set out with a topic. Planning a topic ahead of a meeting will encourage participants to come prepared with ideas. You never know what you’ll leave the meeting with. A small nugget of information could trigger an idea that will change the way you work or get you to rethink a project. Different people will bring different ideas. In fact, the more diverse the background of the people in the meeting, the better the outcome.
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