Networking is one of the key elements to success, both for your own career but also for the business you work for. Making valuable connections with like minded individuals, and thus getting immersed in a mutually supportive group of people, is a fantastic way of learning new skills, building a deeper understanding of the sector or indeed – putting you front of mind for promotion opportunities.
Whilst COVID-19 has put a momentary pause on traditional face to face events, networking should not also be put on hold as a result. The meetings and mingling were, of course, an extremely practical and efficient way of bringing together an eclectic group of people to network. However, if these past 12 months have taught us anything, it’s that we are extremely resilient and able to successfully adapt to new ways of working. Networking to a high standard can be done from home and social distancing should not have a detrimental effect on people’s futures in their careers.
Here, Richard Anderson, Head of Learning and Development at High Speed Training, maps out the best ways of networking whilst working remotely:
– Ramp up social media, but in the right way. Finding specific groups on LinkedIn or other social media channels can be an incredibly effective way of nurturing professional relationships whilst not in the office or – alternatively – going to events or meetings. There’s also a number of incredibly niche subject groups which can play to your advantage if you have a particular specialism. Once you have joined, don’t just sit on the side-lines, ensure that you’re making yourself known amongst members of the group by sharing relevant articles with your views on them and commenting on posts in an attempt to spark conversation and debate.
– Nurture your existing bank of contacts. Whilst opportunities for meeting new people have been few and far between, it’s wise to use this time to make the most of existing relationships or rekindle former ones. From previous colleagues to education alumni, it’s worth checking in with these contacts to see if there are opportunities to learn from one another.
– Use your time wisely. Working from home and cutting out the usual commute has given the majority of the UK’s office workers more free time. This time can now be dedicated for your own personal development, rather than wasting it while sitting in a car or on public transport. People looking to grow their networks should dedicate this time to researching people, businesses, events and initiatives that they want to connect with once life returns to normal.
– Ensure you’re offering value. Establishing yourself as someone who is reliable at offering valuable insight on a topic will make you stand out from the crowd. Whilst working remotely hone in on your unique set of skills and always offer advice to those seeking help. This may well result in you becoming someone’s go-to on a certain topic.
– Share your knowledge far and wide. The lockdown has resulted in people consuming media in different ways and podcasts and blogs are therefore on the rise. If you have a particular area of interest within your sector, why not take a leap of faith and start a blog or podcast series, host a live Q&A on social media or create a webinar about it? There are numerous possibilities for the format and it is a fantastic way of getting your name out there by producing evergreen content that resonates well with people and thus could play a major role in the future of your career.
– Keep your tech in check. Whether it’s Zoom, Teams or Google Hangout, prevent glitches getting in the way of important meetings by doing practice runs or ensuring you’ve got a strong and stable internet connection.
– Determine your goals. Virtual networking, just as when done physically, can seem slightly overwhelming at first. Before you do anything, really consider what you want to get out of it in the long run. Is the main purpose of building new professional relationships more for your own personal development or for a specific campaign at work – or perhaps for both? Make sure you have a clear intention for what you hope to achieve before you enter into anything.
No matter what sector you’re in, networking can only have beneficial results. So, as you set out your strategic vision for your own personal and professional development, make sure you’re keeping networking front of mind to help you achieve those goals. Whether it’s for finding a new job or securing a new business lead at work, having a comprehensive book of contacts that you can rely on will be one of your most useful assets throughout your career – and building that should not be put on hold whilst working from home. As the world begins to open up once more, ensure you’re one step ahead through networking and constantly evolving and nurturing your professional connections.