Before the global health pandemic, going to events, meeting new people and exchanging ideas in-person was the norm. Now, however, things are looking a little different. We’ve had to adapt to a “new normal” from the comfort of our homes, working remotely, and looking for new ways to do the things we love. Staying connected to others is essential to feel like you belong to a community and even for your mental health.
Another way to stay connected is by virtual networking! Investing in your relationships both personally and professionally is crucial because the most connected people are often the most successful. Networking is important because you can uncover opportunities to connect with various types of people (potentially gain a mentor or advisor), increase your visibility, advance your areas of expertise, and improve your skills.
Here are five tips on how you can take digital networking to the next level:
1. Set a goal
Before you even begin the process of networking, write down the reasons you want to gain new connections. This could be because you’re job hunting, you want to improve skills, gain new clientele, or are looking to jump into a whole new career and you need a mentor. Whatever your reason, knowing the “why” is super important. Set an end goal (i.e. new job), then set smaller goals to achieve this, such as having a “virtual” coffee with a new connection twice a month.
2. Do your research and connect
Once you do find a person or event you want to connect with, do your research before either reaching out or attending the event. Here are some things to consider before reaching out to connect with someone: place of work, connections you may have in common, projects this person has worked on (i.e. maybe they’ve written a book). Get to know the background of whomever you want to connect with- remember a little goes a long way, no need to know where the person grew up.
3. Find events and people that you want to network with
Whatever your reason for connecting, you can then start joining groups, events, and reaching out to individuals. These events/groups could be more formal such as a business organization or industry-specific association or less formal, such as LinkedIn Local– where you can network with individuals from various backgrounds, careers, and specialties or the Boss Babe Imperial Facebook group– where you can access workshops, co-working retreats and events with like-minded people.
4. Make yourself seen
When you network with others, it’s not only important to have a goal but to research your connections before reaching out and joining events/groups also to add value. One way to accomplish this is by having a solid elevator pitch. Having a good elevator pitch is important because it demonstrates your strengths, skills, and aptitude. When networking, an elevator pitch will help new contacts realize why they should connect with you and the value you add (i.e they can think of you when an opportunity pops up). A solid elevator pitch will answer- who you are, what you do, and what you’re looking for. Remember to keep your pitch short and to the point.
5. Don’t ask for anything (right away)
As previously mentioned, networking is about getting to know your connection and for them to get to know you. The important thing when it comes to networking is to build mutually beneficial relationships. This means asking open-ended questions, such as “what are some of your current challenges?” You can then offer to connect them with a resource or guide them in the right direction (if you have the experience). Never start by asking them how they can help you, but with the opposite- how you can help them. Over time, you will build strong relationships and once you’ve gained their trust, you can then ask them for help, to be a mentor, etc.
While this isn’t an extensive list of everything you can do to be successful at networking digitally, this is a starting point. So while you can’t attend networking events at the moment, it’s great to consider your options online and continue making valuable connections.
About the writer
Becky is a blogger, content creator, and entrepreneur based in Montréal, who not only has a passion for fashion but all things creative! When she’s not crafting, or galavanting around town doing photoshoots, you can find her podcasting or watching the latest episode of the Real Housewives.