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Networking In A Socially Distanced World

Category: Events

Networking In A Socially Distanced World
We have often been told that it isn’t what you know, but who you know, that enables people to get to where they want to be. Over 80% of jobs are acquired through some form of referral. Someone you know, knows someone who can get your CV in front of the hiring manager and get your application noticed. 

"Your network is your net worth." -- Porter Gale

That’s true in part, but networking isn’t all about finding a job, it’s about building meaningful relationships with people. Establishing strong connections built on trust and respect that allow us to explore and develop our knowledge and share it with others. This is not the time to use phrases such as ‘just checking in…’!

Face-to-face networking events may have been cut short during this time, so how can you build your connections remotely?

"The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity." -- Keith Ferrazzi

Networking isn’t on hold, but the tone of the conversations may have changed. Reaching out now and asking about jobs and asking for help directly, is a little self-centred and insensitive. Now is the time for meaningful conversations, about getting to know people and helping them, earning that trust and respect so that at some time in the future, when it is appropriate, there is a way for you to collaborate. It is vitally important that you expand your network to stay employable long-term.

So what can you do, when social distancing prevents the face-to-face approach?
  • Why not host a virtual meet-up? Reaching out to friends from the past and present, from previous postings, people you were on a course with, or went to school or college with. Invite them to a virtual coffee or ‘trip’ down the pub. What are they all doing, what industries are they working in, how are they finding it, and what do they think their new skill-sets will be? Be the ringleader in organising this.
  • Write an article featuring other’s expertise. Who of your connections do you admire? What industry/network are they in? You could contact them and say ‘hey, I’m putting together an article about this industry/skill-set/thing happening in the news, I value your opinion, what can you add?’ Contact those people in your network or people in companies who are on your ‘bucket’ list. Worst thing they could do is ignore you. When you publish it (LinkedIn or wherever), include those who contributed to it, as they will then put it in their feeds to be seen by their connections.
  • Record a video, with a quick tip or question? We are all used to seeing people in their own homes now, (no need to worry about fancy production techniques) and those viewing it tend to feel more connected to individuals as a result. If you have something to share, then share it. Ask people for their thoughts, opinions, advice and get them to share it. Get people talking!
  • When one of your peers posts something, comment on it, as it will then go into your feed. Don’t just press the like button. Dive in deep and ask a question back so they can respond. Now you are having a meaningful dialogue and they will be more likely to remember you. You will have stood out.
  • Put together an alumni group, a cap-badge or unit, like a family group. Have a virtual meet-up, collaborate on content together and create the group on LinkedIn. Be the leader of this group too and encourage the conversation.
  • Promote the work of companies on your ‘interview bucket list’. The people in your network will see you promoting it, and so when the time comes for you to apply to that company they might be able to help, or might even approach you themselves.
  • Use (appropriate) humour to lighten the heaviness in your industry or profession. Find something fun to add into the feed that relates to the industry or skill-set, as it can help you stand out.
  • Start a daily trivia challenge, related to the industry or skill-set. It helps get people engaged and it’s memorable. Game-ify your network.
  • Do a next level reference or recommendation. Recruiters like these as they can check and track it. Go through your LinkedIn connections, find someone you admire. If you have a picture of you and them together, post it and write how they have inspired you, how they helped, coached, mentored you into being a better professional. There may be a funny story in that! Tell the story of your journey and put them on a pedestal. It says a lot about you taking the time out of your day to do that.
People will really remember how you react in a crisis and those who make an impact in a crisis.

“People don’t remember what you did – but how you made them feel”.
Having a deeper impact and going that extra mile, being inventive and doing more than ‘just checking in’.