Ask A Coach: Networking During A Pandemic
Lindsey Besio ’10, ’12
Meet Lindsey on IrishCompass
How can I continue building my network when in-person events such as conferences or networking events are canceled?
In the current environment, in-person professional gatherings such as conferences, networking events, and job fairs are put on hold, but this doesn’t mean your networking has to pause as well. By taking advantage of online events, utilizing social media, and embracing video calls, you can continue growing your network and potentially have a greater geographic reach than you would in person.
We’re now far enough into social distancing measures that many companies and professional organizations have had time to take their events online. To find formally organized events, reach out to any relevant professional organizations in your field, visit the careers page for companies you’re interested in, and be sure to keep an eye on your inbox for opportunities from your current company or groups you’re already a part of. Look out for events that offer interaction between participants and leaders versus those where you listen to a presentation on mute. Take an active part in these events by submitting questions, taking part in polls, or interacting with other participants through the chat feature. After the event, follow up with those you connected with by adding them on LinkedIn, reaching out via email, or set up a time to connect in the future.
If you’re not finding online events that appeal to you or your schedule doesn’t allow for joining, turn to social media to connect with those who have similar professional interests. Industry groups on IrishCompass, LinkedIn Groups, or even Facebook groups based on professional interest often have robust comment sections where you can ask questions, share your insights, and virtually meet new people to add to your network. I’m not suggesting you try to connect with all 500 members of your local online entrepreneurship group, but do pay attention to those you frequently interact with or find yourself “liking” posts by, and consider reaching out to schedule a conversation
When it comes to connecting with those you’ve met online or have been e-introduced to through previous networking events, try to connect via video chat when possible. While an e-mail exchange or phone call can certainly help you develop new professional relationships, a video chat most closely mirrors the traditional coffee meetups or in-person conversations we’re familiar with from prior networking interactions and can help you make a more meaningful connection.
Just because you can’t shake hands or hand over a business card, doesn’t mean your networking needs to slow down. Dive into new virtual approaches and continue building relationships to expand your professional network. You just might be surprised by the connections you can make online.