March 4, 2021
While meeting people face-to-face is still at a minimum, it is hard to grab coffee or lunch with our business contacts. Even though we have to rely on technology until we can start building our networks in-person again, here are some ways to stay engaged and connected.
1. Update your LinkedIn profile. Often we forget that our LinkedIn page represents who we are to much of the outside world. It can become static and not fully represent our most recent accomplishments. If you have received an award, joined a board (for profit or nonprofit) or completed a degree or certification, be sure to update your profile. The added bonus is that others will be notified of your updates and you might get attention from people already in your network. Read your LinkedIn newsfeed. You may notice people with new positions and a congratulatory note will make you top of mind to that person. “Like” only those items that you want others to see you have liked.
2. Reach out to people you know and get back in touch. Many of us have lived in our home and work bubbles for the past year, and don’t stop to think about the people who have helped us along the way; this can be people who we have enjoyed as colleagues, bosses or have been in a similar field/association. Reach out and schedule a conversation. An authentic email acknowledging their impact on your life will go a long way. Many of us have tired of Zoom and if given the opportunity, would welcome a phone conversation. If you are trying to build your network in a particular industry, ask those who you already know if they have suggestions of people they might be willing to introduce you to over email. Once they have introduced you, follow up and schedule a telephone or Zoom conversation immediately.
3. Build your alumni network. If your alma mater has ways to connect to fellow alumni, take advantage of it. This may be from high school, college or your graduate program.
4. Join a board or a committee. You will meet people with similar passions and gain new perspectives. This may be your first board or your fiftieth. Either way, you will meet new people with shared interests and continue to develop your leadership and listening skills.
5. Take advantage of the associations you belong to. Many are offering virtual meetings and activities. Although we are getting tired of the lack of in person meetings, break out rooms allow for greater interaction. If you are having a good conversation and want to continue the dialogue, reach out to people afterwards.
Building networks can result in potential future job opportunities or your next great hire, but even more importantly we learn from listening to people who are in the industry where we currently work or one we want to be a part of. Expanding your network should be a continual process and a lifelong goal. Sometimes we need to find a mentor or we have the capacity and desire to mentor others. Sometimes we are looking for a job or we are looking for someone to fill one. There is no better time than now to burst your bubble and build your virtual network.