Whether you are building a business, focusing on a career change, or interesting in reconnecting with people to build your circle of influence, networking is the most effective way to do it. But what is networking, really? It is the building of effective and mutually beneficial relationships. As we know, relationships need to be nurtured and developed to support current and future goals, in business and career strategy. As we continue to learn how to succeed in a remote “new normal”, networking has become one of the most important ways to keep connected and a great way to reconnect with those we may have lost connection with when life was much faster and busier. Let’s take a look at 5 ways we can achieve effective reconnection with our networks during a very remote, virtual and non-face-to-face time to re-ignite those relationships.
- Cultivate a connection mindset: This is the first step to ensuring your networking efforts reach the heights that you want them to. Creating connections should be the overall goal of any networking efforts. Having a connection mindset means you value connectivity, and you feel it is essential to life and work. A few ways to cultivate this mindset are:
- Reviewing the effectiveness of past networking efforts.
- Assessing your ability to connect with others and what might need to change.
- Create a few different networking strategies that you can test out.
- Put your new options into practice and assess.
- Make it personal: When you are connecting with people in your network, remember everyone is experiencing the pandemic in different ways. It is okay to talk about the current state of the world and ask how they have been navigating through it. Whether you are reaching out to business contacts or people you have networked with for years, make it personal by asking, “How has the pandemic affected you?” or a simple, “How are you doing?” This shows that you care beyond the business ties you may have. You will remain top of mind when business is back to (some kind of) normal and your contacts might reach out to you first due to your personal touch networking style.
- Consistency is key: Networking is not about instant You will not get the sale or the new job in one connection so setting a cadence for how often you reach out to your network is important for your long-term success. Consistent networking helps you figure out the right people to continue reconnecting with as well. Be more consistent by visualizing the goals of networking, focus on what the long-term success will be, and be realistic in your goals. Don’t make the mistake of not being consistent with your communication cadence. Reconnecting with your network should not be a one-time action; creating some consistency will help them come to expect your connection. If you don’t, you will be quickly forgotten.
- Use LinkedIn well: It has never been easier to connect with people now that we have a resource like LinkedIn. This social media platform was originally built for businesspeople to be able to network easily and effectively. Now, it is also a tool recruiters use to source talent from. Using LinkedIn effectively will help you build your business, your resume, and your career. For those expanding their career plan, Teresa Gabriele from Sourc3dCareers says, “Being able to review profiles of professionals with the same interests or careers as you, can show the type of opportunities that can strive for. Researching companies you would like to work for on LinkedIn and networking with contacts who could potentially be your leader, HR team or colleague is a great way to learn more about the company and about your career path.”
- Set up a virtual coffee or join an online forum: Our meetings and interactions in our personal space have become virtual, so why not extend that through your networking efforts, too? Start simple by Inviting people you would like to reconnect with into a 15-minute virtual coffee. Be sure to share an interesting topic to cover and keep it personal. Online forums are another great way to build networks and stay connected especially if you are isolated during the pandemic. Find a forum that could be business or activity related so you are able to freely interact with people about one or many different topics that interest you. For example, review Facebook Groups or LinkedIn Groups that you could join. Add comments, start a new post, and interact with others. It is a great way to meet new people and expand networks. If you are really brave, start your own!
Staying connected, especially during a time when it becomes more difficult, is essential to moving forward with relationships that need to be re-nurtured. From acquaintances to business contacts, it will never be a better time to reconnect. We are all experiencing this pandemic in different ways, so having this experience as your lead-in topic when reaching out to contacts, will be the easiest conversation starter ever. Take advantage of this opportunity to reconnect, show empathy, and keep it personal. We are all humans experiencing the same global event.