Networking Virtually: How To Get It Right
Graduate jobs, Advice
February 17, 2021
In the age of online classes and remote work, networking may seem like an impossibility. You can no longer meet like-minded people the same way as you did in the pre-pandemic phase: at staff parties, in lectures or conferences, or through friends of friends and are instead confined to the four walls of your house. For students and recent graduates, life after university has always been a daunting thought and feeling isolated from the rest of society only worsens those feelings.
Having said that, obtaining your dream job in the midst of a pandemic is definitely still a possibility and networking virtually is not as hard as you may think. It’s a skill you can master, in fact. Here are some tips for making the most out of networking online.
Regularly updating your LinkedIn account is a great way of letting your connections and potential employers know what you have been working on and what you are looking for in your professional life. Having a rich profile is a good way of allowing you to stand out to potential employers, however, do not feel like you have to wait for employers to contact you, reaching out to them shows motivation and initiative, both vital characteristics for any career.
Connect with people in the same career field as you, adding a personal message to your connection requests to ensure that you appear friendly and make an impression.
Engage with people on social media
Social media is definitely the future of networking as it is such a convenient way of connecting with people. Make a professional Twitter account and follow people who interest and inspire you. Reply to their tweets if they share a piece of work you are impressed with or send them a message asking for advice.
Joining Facebook groups linked to your chosen career is also a great way of networking as often employers will post job opportunities in them. Facebook groups are also a great place to ask for advice on CVs, cover letters, interview prep etc. and people are generally always happy to offer their expertise.
Arrange informational interviews over zoom
Informational interviews are a really useful way of finding out what working in your career field is really like. Talking to someone who is in a similar position to where you aspire to be is extremely beneficial for obtaining honest information that will help you decide if the career is really right for you and they can usually give you a lot more detailed information than you would be able to find online. Although, at the moment arranging these interviews in person is an impossibility, zoom meetings are a handy replacement and are often more convenient.
Reach out to people you admire on Twitter, or contact your lecturers to find out if there are any alumni who would be happy to chat. Write a list of questions to ask your interviewees beforehand so that you can really make the most out of the meeting and remember that all of your queries are valid and there is no such thing as a stupid question.
Attending webinars related to your chosen career path is a great way of not only enhancing your skill-set but also of meeting people with similar interests as you. Ask questions to make yourself stand-out and contact the hosts afterwards to tell them how insightful their talk was.
Connect with other attendees on social media and ask them what they thought of the webinar, suggest making a group chat or scheduling a zoom meeting to discuss what you learned in the webinar and to arrange to attend similar webinars together in the future.
It is important not to forget that those you engage with online are real people with thoughts and feelings. In the real world, you would not just go up to someone who you have never met and ask them to give you a job and it is important to maintain this etiquette online. Always begin your emails/messages by asking people how they are doing, if they’ve had a nice day, if they have any plans for the weekend and try to appear genuinely interested in their lives.
Try to remember personal details about those you connect with and refer back to them in conversations e.g. asking them how their kids are. This way you will make a more meaningful and lasting connection - people are far more likely to recommend you for jobs if they believe that you genuinely care about them and aren’t just sucking up to them so that they get you a job.
Written by Olivia Stringer
Olivia is a freelance writer who is also currently training for her NCTJ at News Associates in Manchester. She enjoys writing about everything from social and environmental issues to lifestyle and education.
Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash