As a professional, networking can undoubtedly take your success to the next level.
Networking builds relationships with other professionals, helps you stay on top of the job market, find employment opportunities, meet prospective mentors, join industry groups, and access resources that can foster your career development. Experts agree (and science confirms) that the most connected people are often the most successful people. It’s hard to argue with that. Some of the best networking opportunities were often found attending conferences, seminars, trade shows and other such events designed to attract large crowds of like-minded people. Other avenues such as joining committees or associations, along with informal get-togethers also provided excellent opportunities to expand connections. Unfortunately, many of these avenues for networking have been restricted by social distancing and lockdown measures that have gone in waves across the country and around the world.
Does this spell the end for networking opportunities? To the contrary. As we learn to adapt to new social norms, we can continue forging new relationships. COVID has given rise to an increase in digital transformation and technology. We can put that to good use when networking. It’s simply a paradigm shift from relying on a physical presence for effective networking to a social media presence. We already know the importance of networking to advance our careers and be a contributing member in our professional fields. We simply need to retool our strategies. Here are some tips to consider when building your presence online:
1. Create Your Social Profiles – or – Update an Existing One
Your social profiles are essential for establishing a compelling social presence. Show off your accomplishments, a little bit of your personality and leverage the advantages that social media platforms can provide. For professionals, LinkedIn offers the most in-depth profiles, allowing you to highlight academic accomplishments, awards, work experience, including volunteer work, along with skills and interests. LinkedIn may be the world’s largest professional networking site, but it’s not the only one. Others include:
Meetup – you can seek (or create) local meetups by simply registering and marking your interests. Meetup will notify you of any local meetups that might be of interest to you. Meetup covers a wide array of topics from professional topics to hobbies and interest.
Xing – a professional network that is like LinkedIn, allowing you to join groups of like-minded professionals to network and share ideas.
Lunchmeet – is a mobile app (like Meetup) that you can use to identify local professionals with similar interests and arrange to meet (virtually) for coffee or lunch.
There are a host of other social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), that you can use to expand your network and build your social media presence.
2. Attend Virtual Conferences & Other Events
Virtual conferences and events are exploding, with businesses across industries hosting numerous events. Studies have indicated that by the end of the year, approximately 80% of internet traffic will be from virtual conferencing. Virtual conferences cut down on in-person costs and allow organizers to invest more in speakers and panellists. Attendees gain comprehensive learning opportunities, along with opportunities to connect with a larger cohort of professionals from across the country and around the world. Often these events use small-group breakout rooms to give attendees an opportunity to engage each other. They will also leave networking channels open after the event to allow attendees time to catch up on any missed keynote speakers, and provide more time to network.
3. Tune-in to Business Podcasts
One of the best ways to maximize your time, hone your skills and still gain useful knowledge about your profession or industry is to tune into business podcasts. Podcasts are a great way to connect with people in your industry or profession. Whether you attend or host a podcast, this is one way to strengthen connections and build your personal brand. Tune into one of Canada’s leading podcasts, Ask a Vexxpert, for business insights from experts across the country.
4. Register for Web Courses & Webinars
Aside from gaining new insights and knowledge, web courses and webinars can also introduce you to employers and employment opportunities, as well as opportunities to network.
5. Create a Personal Blog or Website
Create a website to act as a hub for all your online activities. You can upload projects, blog posts, videos and provide links to other work samples. With your own website, you have more freedom to be a little more creative when packaging your information.
6. Contribute Content
Don’t just sit back and read, if you have knowledge on a topic or have something constructive to say, consider adding useful comments, sharing a link to insightful information or writing an article. As a professional, you might also consider giving a presentation during an association meeting or even being a keynote speaker at an upcoming event.
7. Offer Help
A great way to build relationships and grow your network is to offer help to another colleague or associate without expecting anything in return. It not only feels good, it gets your name out and lets people know that you are a valuable resource. People who use networking effectively often use this strategy to add value to other members of the group.
It’s impossible to deny the power that a strong professional network has on your success. When done right, networking can give you the competitive edge you need to advance your career or find that perfect job. With the growing number of networking opportunities available, it’s essential that you take some time to explore all options before committing to a specific networking group. When you do decide, it’s equally important to be a contributing member of that group. As you network with people in your company, your industry or even outside your field of expertise, you will uncover opportunities to connect with different mentors and advisors. You will also increase your visibility with C-Level management who can further your career. It’s a great time to be networking!