Networking during a pandemic - what you need to know

Networking has always been at the forefront of a businesses strategic process to boost engagement and build business relationships. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door and increase the number of opportunities. There are many ways to network; careers fairs, conferences, luncheon meetings, speed networking & yes, even happy hour meet ups! This is definitely a networking paradise, with so many options to choose from!Covid-19 disrupted the world of networking as we once knew it. The pandemic prohibited any means of social gathering and this made it impossible to host and attend any networking events. During these troubled times, we have had to learn to adapt to our current climate and use online platforms to stay in touch and forge new relationships. Here are some tips on how to continue networking during a pandemic

1. Reach out to your personal network

Maintaining relationships is a key component of networking. Simply message people, you are connected to more people than you think! Start reaching out to friends, family, colleagues & people you may have lost contact with. Spend a few minutes each day messaging your contacts; ask them how they are doing, share any useful resources you think they might find helpful, make a recommendation – these friendly gestures are something they will remember, and this keeps you in touch. Perhaps try to schedule a call or a coffee meeting!

2. Make use of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an opportunity for you to build your personal brand, it is the most effective way to manage and grow your network. Make sure your profile is up to date, join groups and engage with your connections by liking and commenting on posts. Start sharing your experiences and ideas, this is a great way to let people know who you are and what you do. There are many ways you can start posting and building your profile: reshare a post with your key takeaway points, share learnings based on your experiences, ask your network for tips and this will kickstart engagement in the comment section of your post. Post on a regular basis and include hashtags to help extend your reach beyond your connections. It is important you are visible on LinkedIn. This is the foundation of building your network and can really boost your career.

3. Find online events

Building connections through online networking platforms have become increasingly popular since Covid-19. Besides using traditional social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram & Twitter, there are many platforms curated specifically for networking. A great way to find a number of networking events is through Eventbrite. It is easy to use, just search what type of event you are looking for and you will be able to find something that is right for you.

Alternatively, sign up to Clubhouse – an audio-only social networking app. People from all around to world come together and talk, listen and learn from each other in real-time. This is an opportunity for you to join in on conversations that may be happening or even start one of your own. Although this app is invite-only and if you want to sign up you will be added to a waiting list.

Lunchclub is another way of networking with people 1:1, using AI to identify appropriate matches and set up a meeting, all you have to do is sign up and tell the service a little bit about yourself and what kinds of people you’re hoping to meet. Naturally, making use of search engines such as Google is a great resource for finding networking events. You can easily find events by searching “[your interest/industry specific] online networking events”.

4. Host your own event

Why not host your own event? This is a great way to put yourself out there and make yourself known. Plan an event that you think will be relevant or spark the interest of your network. All you need to do is:

👉🏽 Pick your topic – the best networking events are those with a niche area of focus. Do you want to create an event for industry-specific people or entrepreneurs and small businesses? Do you want this to be an opportunity to explore perspectives and learn something new? Or maybe you want to provide people with the opportunity to meet people and make friends.

👉🏽 Set a date and time – it’s tricky to pick a date and time that suits everyone, so think about your demographic and what might work best for them

👉🏽 Location – Think about what platform you want to use to host your event. Remember to take into consideration how many people there will be attending the event, some online platforms might have a maximum capacity of participants what can join the event.

👉🏽 Promote – remember to promote your event, post on your social media platforms & tell your network. Your network is your net worth. Start building the foundations today. Whatever you decide to do to bolster your network be consistent, persistent and proactive. It may seem like a drag in the beginning but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty addictive!

Remember it’s not about the number of interactions or followers, it’s about building quality, meaningful and longstanding relationships.

Written by Ayushi Patel 👩🏽‍🏫(Community Manager at WorkPanda 🐼)