The large, in-person networking event is actually off-putting these days, redefined by COVID-19, but networking is still an essential tool to build business and a career. Consider that 80% of all open positions aren’t advertised but instead found through personal connections! According to Korn Ferry, 85% of all positions are actually filled via networking. Pandemic or not, few are willing to give up major networking opportunities—so how to?
Join Virtual Groups and Classes
Networking connections can start out as a social interest, says Sondra Levitt, a Korn Ferry Advance career coach. Consider attending a virtual class in cooking, art, wine tasting, kickboxing, or whatever interests you, then get to know the people there. You’ll have an immediate talking point via your common interest.
Look for virtual events sponsored by specific industry groups or LinkedIn, Slack, Reddit, and Meetup groups related to your field, industry, interest, occupation, or graduate school. People are hungry for shop talk after almost two years of working remotely and alone, and open to exchanging ideas and contact.
Send a Custom Message
If you attend a virtual conference and want to talk one-on-one with a speaker or other participant, trying sending a message mentioning the event you attended and ask to connect. If you have a pro membership to Linked in, you can write to them via the site, even if you aren’t connected. Tell them you found their ideas interesting. If they accept your invitation to connect, thank them and ask if they can spare a few minutes to discuss the content in their presentation or the point they made during the conference. Be as authentic and specific in your message as possible
Connect Over Social Media Content
If you’re interested in connecting with someone, follow them on social media. Pay attention to the articles and posts they share on Twitter or LinkedIn, and amplify their content by responding with a thoughtful comment, If you see an article or study they might be interested in, tag them when you share the content. Or, if you don’t want to call attention to it publicly, message the article to them directly.
There are plenty of remote volunteer opportunities that could lead to connections with people who have mutual interests, says Val Olson, a Korn Ferry Advance career coach. In addition to networking with other volunteers, consider reaching out to the organization’s executive director. Either send an email or connect on LinkedIn, but be sure to send a personal note with your LinkedIn connection request that mentions the work you are doing with the organization and your experience volunteering.
Explore the Possibility of an In-person Meeting
If the person you’d like to network with is local, consider asking if they’d like to meet virtually or in person—just be respectful of their comfort level when you ask, Levitt says. For instance, offer to wear a mask, meet outside, and stay socially distanced. “People may be more willing to meet in person right now, as long as they both feel safe,” Levitt says