Everyone knows that networking is a crucial part of the job search process. However, in-person networking is not always feasible. The good news is, there are countless opportunities for remote networking at home even when there are no in-person networking events to attend. In this article, I’ll outline 4 tips for virtual networking. You can continue to read along, or watch the video below instead.
Remote Networking: How to Virtually Network
With the power of the internet, now is a really great time to research who you actually want to connect with, get super laser targeted with them, and having a conversation that builds rapport and relationship. You can continue to read along, or watch the video below instead.
How to Network When There Are No Networking Events to Attend
Most people feel like cold emailing is less welcoming or inviting than an in-person meetup where individuals voluntarily sign up to meet and network for the same purpose. But one powerful thing I have noticed during this time period of social distancing is that people are hungry for connection. Without coworkers to socialize with and friends to meet up with, everyone is craving human interaction more than ever before.
So with that in mind, understand that so many people have more headspace and time to connect with others – as long as they’re given a clear request. I want to share a really powerful reframe: Social distancing is actually Virtual Connecting. I love seeing it this way because we really are just one connection away from change in our entire career trajectory and our lives. It’s amazing that with a simple outreach message, we can be connected with our potential future mentor, dream job contact, role model, or anyone, really! The networking opportunities right now are ENDLESS – if you’re willing to be brave and take your networking efforts online.
Tip #1: Join Online Groups With Like-Minded Individuals
If cold emailing a single person sounds scary to you, you can always start off with a safer and easier approach to get your feet wet. One of the cool things about the internet is that there are so many groups online with like-minded individuals wanting to connect on shared interests or commonalities. These groups are actually very similar to in-person meetups or events. They can generally be in the form of a Facebook or LinkedIn group, a Reddit forum, a Slack channel or a professional organization that just has a community presence.
There are specific location-based groups, interest-based groups, career-based groups, professional organizations with specific chapters focused on growing their community, and so mcuh more. You might need to Google a little bit on this, but you want to just start getting curious when you meet somebody who is in one of your fields or niches, or has a specific topic of interest. You could also ask, “Hey, I’m curious where you’re hanging out online? Are you a part of any active groups that would be interesting to join?”. You’ll never know what another person’s advice opens up for you!
For instance, I found a group of people who are interested in real estate within my area. Just by typing in those keywords into Facebook, and then looking at the Groups tab, I was able to sort through and see other people in my area with a specific interest in this one niche. If I wanted to network without going into somebody’s inbox, that could be a good place to start. You can start by just introducing yourself to the group along with what you’re hoping to accomplish, and who you would like to connect with in case anybody is interested.
Tip#2: Join and Post in Lunch Club
Another really cool idea for you that I believe has a very low barrier to entry is Lunch Club. I recently found out about this through several job seekers in my programs. They have been raving about it! It’s essentially a marketplace where you can post your background, profile, and who you want to connect with. The organization then sends you a match unlike cold emailing, where you have to build up courage and vulnerability and do all the “matching” yourself. According to the job seekers in my program, the caliber of people on Lunch Club as well as their willingness to carve time out of their day is impressive! This structured setting of networking can help calm your nerves as you get more comfortable with reaching out on your own. I recommend you check LunchClub out and see if they’re in your city. You might also want to look into Bumble Bizz, which is a similar community I have personally used.
Tip#3: DO A GOOGLE SEARCH ON YOUR NICHE’S COMMUNITY & GROUP
I feel that there are so many communities, niches, and entire industries that are taking things virtually. For instance, I am in an HR group called HR Chats, an organization that has put their platform onto Slack where you can literally message any HR professional.
That’s why I highly suggest that if you are in a specific industry, department, or niche, do a Google search and start to see again what you can find. Take a look and get curious, maybe sign up for a trial somewhere, or ask if there’s a way to get invited into these communities and groups and just check it out.
TIP#4: DIRECTLY REACH OUT TO PEOPLE
One of the best ways that I personally prefer as well, is directly cold emailing people that you feel inspired by, that you admire, appreciate, and who you just want to get acquainted with. I know this sounds scary for a lot of people, but when you do it genuinely and you’re being very customized and personable with your message, it really is not that scary.
People are on social media because they want to be discovered and found if their profile is public. By the way, when I say social media, I’m also factoring in LinkedIn, which if you guys know me by now, you know I’m a big fan of LinkedIn. I think it’s one of the most powerful tools out there that can virtually connect you to everyone, including CEOs.
Creating a strong personal brand is important if you’re going to be doing cold outreach and want to leave a positive impression. When you’re connecting with a complete stranger, it’s not as intimidating or scary as you think, but it does take courage and vulnerability. However, if you’re doing it in a methodical, customized, personable way, and you’re really connecting from a genuine place, then you cannot go wrong. You may not get every single person to respond to you. And that’s okay, because let me tell you, I have seen this happen so many times with my job seekers, that I work with, the PEOPLE THAT ARE WILLING TO HELP WILL RESPOND. Those are the people that are going to be the life changing connections for you. They’re going to be the ones who say, “Hand me your resume.”, or “Let me refer you to this person…”, or “Let me introduce you to so and so…”, and just give you really great nuggets of wisdom so that you can continue progressing forth and towards your goal that you want. And at the same time, hopefully make some genuine connections, friendships, and mentorships that you can also contribute to down the road.
I hope this article has helped you to continue finding your tribe of people virtually and online, as well as having direct one on one conversations with people that really spark your curiosity and interest.
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