As we settle into our new normal of social distancing, it’s so important to stay connected personally and professionally. I for one find myself picking up the phone and calling a friend instead of texting them, and accept every Zoom meeting, coffee chat or virtual happy hour that comes my way. So let’s take advantage of this common desire to connect and the flexibility we have in our schedules to reach out and re-engage our network.
Start by determining your goals. Are you looking to secure a new role, build a new skillset, transition to a new industry or simply re-connect with former colleagues? Be clear about what you hope to accomplish and let that guide your outreach.
To help you as you build your virtual networking strategy, I’ve included some additional tips below:
- First, think about converting all of your upcoming in-person meetings to virtual ones. Did you have coffee scheduled with an industry partner or dinner with your two best friends? Don’t cancel, simply suggest you chat over Zoom or Google Hangouts. From there, build time into your calendar for proactive outreach and anticipated conversation.
- Use this time to network within your own organization. Visibility and engagement creates a path for advancement. Reach out to colleagues across functions. Check in, ask how they’re doing and what their challenges are. Perhaps you may be able to help!
- Are you thinking about transitioning to a new industry or function? If so, reach out to connections in your area of interest. Ask for time to talk over the phone or Zoom so you can learn more about their career path and the skills necessary to succeed short- and long-term.
- Most importantly, focus on quality, not quantity when it comes to relationships. Try to avoid one off conversations and instead, aim to check in periodically. A great way to do this is to follow-up on any ‘to do’ items from your first conversation. Did your contact recommend a certain book to read or someone else to reach out to? If so, loop back and provide an update once your ‘homework’ is complete.
While there is still much uncertainty surrounding this global pandemic, I remain certain that meaningful connections are essential to our well-being. Research shows that social connection can lower anxiety, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem, and actually improve our immune systems. I don’t know about you but all of those sound good to me these days! With all the possibilities technology provides, make sure you continue to connect virtually until we can meet again.