A deep and broad network can be one of your most powerful tools, helping you find great opportunities and, likewise, helping great opportunities find you. This has never been truer than during COVID-19.
The economic chaos spurred by the pandemic has rocked all sense of job security for most of us. We’re all left wondering: What next?
This challenging era may require a shift in employment, by choice or by necessity. Whether you’re looking for a new role or are satisfied with your current career, it pays to be prepared for whatever the future holds by developing a robust professional network.
Effective networking can help you find desirable job opportunities; authentic connections can help opportunities find you.
Here are 10 recommendations for productive, remote networking:
1. Make a List of People in Your Network
Reach out to people in your network and build rapport. Everyone is navigating a new normal together—peers can help each other in difficult circumstances. Ask your connections if they know anyone who would share advice or support your job search. Set a goal to expand your network with at least two new referrals every week.
2. Energize Your LinkedIn Presence
Ensure your LinkedIn profile is solid and up to date. Revise job experience as needed — be clear, concise and compelling. Highlight skills to activate endorsements, and make sure you a professional photo. Ask contacts to write recommendations or draft your own for them to edit or approve. Regularly comment on what others post — don’t just like it. Be authentic, active and consistent.
3. Practice Compassion
Be sensitive to our current situation and how it may be impacting your contacts. In this unprecedented time, people are balancing work and life in various ways. Always include a note of compassion in your written and verbal communications, such as “I hope you, your family and your team are all safe and healthy.”
4. Leverage Video Chats
We’ve all become much more comfortable with video conferencing during these shelter-in-place days, so always opt for a video call over an audio-only call. It makes it easier to connect more deeply and build more meaningful relationships.
5. Learn the Details
Ask questions and keep notes about a person’s position, their interests and their family situation. Later, you can reference these details to connect on a more personal level and genuinely engage in conversation. Remembering the details will get you noticed and appreciated.
6. Be a Connector
Networking is two-sided. Look for ways to provide value to people in your network by connecting them to others. Share articles you think your connections would appreciate and post any good news that comes your way.
7. Check In Periodically
Identify reasons to contact members of your network. Check in regularly so that you stay top-of-mind. Let people know about an update to your resume and remind them if you are still looking for a new position. Ask how they are doing, report on your job search, share something interesting you learned about the industry — anything to keep the relationship going.
8. Join Groups
Many Southern California organizations provide ways for people to virtually connect, network and develop business relationships. The Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), Financial Executives International (FEI) and Financial Executives Networking Group (FENG) are a few organizations helping professionals in the finance world broaden their network. Consider joining one or all.
9. Hold Yourself Accountable
Networking is difficult for many people. Asking for help may not come naturally, but with focus and practice it becomes easier. Make a plan and stick to it. Decide how many people you will contact every week, how many emails you’ll send and how much time you’ll spend daily on LinkedIn. Commit to virtual coffee meetings or happy hours. Like any other work task, you set goals, track results and identify any gaps.
10. Be Patient
Remember, people are distracted and managing life as best they can right now. Be patient with responses, be gracious with your appreciation and show respect for their time.
Whatever your current job situation—unemployed, recently furloughed, looking for a new opportunity or perfectly happy with your current job—remember relationships matter. Value your connections, enrich your network, and stay in touch. The next great opportunity might just be a connection away.