The world has transformed since 2020. The movement to become more of a virtual world began at least 10 years before the global pandemic with the advent of social media. However, the global pandemic accelerated strategies and tools to grow virtually as well as the necessity to network virtually.
The transition to networking in a virtual world
Presenters who formerly presented only in in-person events found that they needed to learn skills to present virtually when in-person wasn’t an option. Sitting in on these sessions provides the opportunity to build a solid network with the participants.
Alex Freund, the Interview Coach featured in Design Resumes packages, leveraged this opportunity. He transformed his previously only New Jersey / New York-based presentations to virtual sessions that reached job seekers across the United States. I sat in on three of his sessions. Alex and I used Zoom to meet with clients long before the pandemic. I noticed after the pandemic I no longer needed to train clients on how to use Zoom, they already were using it for work.
How to build a solid network on LinkedIn
Though there are numerous ways to build a solid network, LinkedIn is an excellent place to connect and build relationships with people who share your interests.
How? Be generous about sharing business tips and strategies with people who are interested in your field. You may have to do a deep dive to determine what information might be interesting but I would start by following hashtags in your industry or field. For example, a search of the hashtag: #businesstransformation led me to this article: “Why the great resignation calls for some great re-engagement” shared by Sean Blackson and this tidbit:
While customer-centricity is a well-worn business phrase, forward-thinking firms realise it’s time to focus on employee-centricity.
Once you read the article of your choice, you have options. You can like the article and you can comment on the article on LinkedIn. This opens the door to conversations. My comment was:
Loved this quote: “While customer-centricity is a well-worn business phrase, forward-thinking firms realise it’s time to focus on employee-centricity.” I just had this conversation with a client the other day. Proactive companies are retooling their learning and development to focus on the needs of the employees.
See? It is not that hard. Now I did not know the person who shared the article this time, but we will see what happens. Since I liked and commented, this will show up in my stream on my home page. My connections now will be able to like and comment too if they choose. You can, of course, do the same thing with posts from your network that show up in your home stream.
Evaluate your existing contacts to build a solid network
You can easily reach out virtually through an email, text, or phone call to people who are in your network already. You might not have touched base in some time. People enjoy that contact. You can even surprise them with snail mail. Helen Rittersporn built a whole blog encouraging old-style correspondence through handwritten letters. I would follow up snail mail with a phone call or email though to get the conversation going.
Join professional networks to enhance and grow a solid network
As I mentioned previously, networking groups are meeting virtually. I work often with finance clients (CFOs, VPs of Finance, and Senior Directors of Finance.) Referrals to my business have come from clients who are members of the CFO Leadership Council or the Financial Executives Networking Group. I have another client who is active in The Procurement Foundry, a private community where indirect procurement and supply chain management professionals come to gather, learn, share, and grow. Toastmasters International went virtual during the pandemic too.
Consider virtual walks to create conversations and build a solid network
With the advent of technology, you can walk and talk to people anywhere. I used to do this 10 years ago. I had Bluetooth devices that let me carry on conversations with others across the state and country while I walked Teddy, my previous German Shepherd to the river. In my case, it just was fun to use the technology to talk and walk but now I see that this could be an asset to expand conversations virtually.
Networking is a lifelong activity. Take small steps to reach out to a few connections each week.
I built a new friendship with someone I knew from our church by connecting with her by phone and email throughout the pandemic at first to make sure she knew what was going on during the pandemic. We knew each other a little from the church but this expanded and I gained a new friend I cherish today.
I teach networking to my clients while I create their resume and career marketing documents in my exclusive interactive coaching and writing practice. Learn more.