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6 Ways to Effectively Network During a Pandemic

You can build professional relationships without leaving home.

Source: Mimi Thian/Unsplash
You can build your professional network without leaving your couch.
Source: Mimi Thian/Unsplash

In-person conferences and meetings are non-existent these days. The art of exchanging business cards likely has not happened since March. Despite not meeting in person, there are a multitude of opportunities to expand one’s network and build professional relationships. Welcome to virtual networking. It’s a platform where both the social butterflies and those who are quieter can equally excel. Here are six ideas to help you expand your professional network, without requiring you to leave home.

Reach out to an author

Has someone written a book you enjoyed or an article you found interesting? Reach out to the author and let them know why the book or article was so meaningful. Let them know what resonated with you and why. Many authors don’t hear from their readers and are often writing in a vacuum. Reaching out to them will make you stand out as it is not a common occurrence.

Connect with speakers

Did you attend a virtual conference, workshop, or watch a LinkedIn Live interview? Did you find something the speaker said to be of interest? Reach out to them and let them know. Connect with them on LinkedIn, send a personalized invite, and explain where you heard their interview and why you enjoyed it. If you think they have a message worth sharing, amplify it by following them on Twitter and tweeting out their message.

Engage with fellow audience members

Did someone at a recent Zoom event or conference say something that you agreed with? Let them know by sending them a message. Thank them for their comment, and let them know that you are pleased that they shared it.

Log on early to Zoom

The idea of spending one more minute than necessary on Zoom is likely more than people can handle, but logging in even five minutes early can completely change the landscape. Few people are on then, usually just the speaker and organizers. After they finish their technology check, they are likely just chatting and passing time. Turn your video on and engage in conversation. Have a "starter sentence" ready to ignite the dialogue. Ask someone where they are based these days or how they are handling working remotely, or in person, as the case may be.

Follow up

If you have a phone call or virtual coffee with someone, professional relationship strategist Andy Lopata recommends in his book Connected Leadership, using the 24/7/30 rule. Follow up with them 24 hours after speaking with them, and then shoot them a quick email or LinkedIn request seven and then 30 days later. Let them know how you are implementing something the two of you discussed.

Be visible on social media

If you are one of those people who prefer to lurk on social media you are likely missing out on the opportunity for people to find you. If your profile is stale, people think you don’t exist. Be sure to engage with content. Like and comment on other’s people’s post and share articles you find interesting. Go the extra step and share why you found the article captivating.

If you are strategic and engage with people who developed great content and ideas, you can increase your network significantly. Reach out, stay engaged, and don’t be afraid to start a conversation with a stranger.

More from Ruth Gotian Ed.D., M.S.
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