Virtual Networking Guide to Expand Your Connections

Time to read: 3 minutes

Virtual Networking Tips Summary

  • Virtual networking is not new but this way of connecting has come to the forefront as the workforce remains remote.
  • A five-step guide to virtual networking.

After last year’s start of quarantine, companies, and professionals have had to get creative with the way they do things. With offices closed, work trips and conventions canceled, and gathering restrictions in place, virtual networking is the new norm for expanding your professional circle.

Although you may not be able to network in person like you previously have, that does not mean you have to give up the opportunity to make new connections. Below we discuss ways that you can network virtually with others while ensuring you come across professionals through a screen.

5 Steps to Network Virtually

1. Attend a Virtual Event

As an alternative to in-person events and conferences, many industries have been participating in or putting on virtual events. These events vary anywhere from business conferences to virtual happy hours. Whether the events are more serious and informational, or more of a fun get-together with other professionals, either is a great opportunity to meet new people from varying industries. Consider attending one of these events for a chance to grow your network, even from home:

2. Utilize Social Media

Now more than ever, people are using social media as a means to promote themselves and entertain themselves. With most employees working from home, people are spending more time online, making the general public much more accessible throughout the day. Reaching out via social media is a more casual way to interact with companies and professionals, which shows engagement and interest in the content.  Networking virtually must be approached carefully and done tastefully as you run the risk of coming across as inappropriate when done incorrectly.

To make sure you do it right, check out these guides to networking the right way via social media:

3. Search Through Existing Connections

Oftentimes, people work so hard to make new connections that they can forget about the meaningful network they have already built. Out of all the people in your network, there is bound to be at least one person with an opportunity or experience you can benefit from. Search through your LinkedIn connections for companies hiring, events, seeking business partners, speakers, and more. There are endless possibilities.

Even if you do not come across something that fits your goals, consistently interacting with your connections can only benefit you in the long run. Maintaining relationships will help keep you at the forefront of any future opportunities.

4. Ask Your Connections to Introduce You to Their Network

You have gained a circle of friends, family, colleagues, mentors, educators, and more through various periods of your professional life. Something to keep in mind is that while you have your individual connections, your network also has its own networks and professional circles, which hold opportunities for you.

Since the chances of you running into your peers anywhere in person are pretty slim at this time, your best bet is to reach out to them via LinkedIn, social media, or by phone. When you contact them, just let them know you’re looking to expand your network, share your interests, and see if they have anyone they can connect you with.

Check out our article for LinkedIn job search tips to gain hiring manager and recruiter attention!

5. Identify Who You Want In Your Circle and Devise a Plan

Is there a company or a professional in your line of work you wish to work with? Instead of keeping that goal a wishful desire, do something to act on it. Most of these people are quite easy to find on social media platforms and company sites.

To start, make a list of what people and companies you want to have a professional relationship with. Then, set a goal for yourself to reach out to at least a few of those professionals. Although this can be nerve-racking, the worst that can happen is not getting a response. However, reaching out could earn you a new connection or even a new opportunity. Use the internet to your advantage and reach out to people you might otherwise not have come into contact with. 

Virtual Networking Etiquette

Just as you would after a job interview, take a moment to follow up with any new connections you make. They took the time out of their day to respond to you, answer questions, and maybe even provide you with opportunities. Make sure all your interactions are friendly and polite, that way you leave a positive impression on your new network.

In Conclusion

No matter how you decide to grow your professional circle, virtual networking is a simple, socially distanced way to gain new connections while the world is still remote. Even when in-person events resume, knowing how to network online is an important skill that can help you contact people you may not have gotten the chance to meet in person.

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