How to network during the COVID-19 pandemic?

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Dear Jane,

Networking in the pre-pandemic world was something that I looked forward to every single day. However, due to lockdown, this process seems to be a big-time challenge and I am unsure of how I’ll continue getting freelancing gigs as 90% of the jobs are a result of me networking with someone at an industry event or conference. In the post-COVID world, you can no longer meet people, let alone show goodwill using the usual ways, like offering a meal together, coffee, or a drink. It has become almost impossible to network with industry peers (Considering the fact that all the venues are strictly closed and social distancing being practiced). Further, keeping a note of the number of months passed practicing this new normal, it is obvious that people have attuned themselves to this new life and set up their own ways to network. But I am unsure of how I should be doing it while also maintaining social distancing? And what according to you should be my approach which makes me sound genuine and not ruthless/heartless prick?

how to network during the pandemic

Networking with your colleagues and acquaintances regardless of the medium should be done on a regular basis. Impressing them with your work, knowledge and etiquette could be the best way of networking. The impact that your work creates for you is better than any other step that you could follow in order for your colleagues to notice you or create a network.

Around the globe, people are staying at home to slow the spread of COVID. When people are self-isolating, there is significantly all the more need to be social, yet from a remote place. People are relying on technology to assist them with everything from meetings and conferences to meals with loved ones. You can also use technology to meet new people and build a solid network.

People often associate networking with casual banter, elevator pitches, and piles of business cards. Although, the way to successful networking is to build genuine connections, and above all, provide value. You could find out about an employment opportunity, get vocation counsel, find a coach, meet a future business partner and vice versa.

At this moment, people are working remotely, managing corporations, and dealing with their loved ones and their own physical and emotional wellness. Rethink networking by leading with how you can offer value to others as they explore this new normal.

Share your skills

Learn from the sudden influx of virtual learning opportunities and share your skills. Health specialists are taking to social media to share free or at-home workouts. Educators are having virtual classes via online media for guardians who are balancing work and homeschool. Financial planners are sharing money advice for entrepreneurs and individuals via YouTube. Accountants are assisting people online on tax relief programs and new filing deadlines. Techies are teaching people how to use Slack, Zoom, FaceTime, Zoom, and different tools for staying connected in their personal and professional lives. The basic goal is to make genuine connections by using your expertise to create value in people’s lives.

Find virtual networking opportunities

Industry conferences, college career services departments, and alumni groups are hosting online networking events so people can connect safely. Here, you may get an opportunity to talk to likeminded people in Slack teams, Facebook Groups, or LinkedIn groups. Learn new skills, join conversations, and most importantly, provide value.

Schedule virtual meetings

If you connect with someone at an in-person networking event and you think you could help one another, you’d send a follow-up email to get together for coffee in the upcoming weeks. If you connect with someone at an online networking event or in a group, you do the same and send an email.

Reach out

It is always humanly to keep a check on your peers’ mental health or at least try to be a helping hand whenever possible. Due to the lockdown imposed upon us, taking a break and going on a vacation is not advisable. In this phase, where stepping out of our houses can be a threat, maintaining sanity can be a challenge. Try connecting with your peers over any social media platforms in order to get their updates. Approach them and ask about their well-being and if they need any help. If needed, counsel them and try to show an optimistic way out. Virtual games are a trend during the lockdown phase. Connecting with them over any game once in a while could be the best approach possible. These approaches could give a sense of positivity to your co-worker which is the most needed trait in this stressful time.

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Jane Harper
Writer. Human resources expert and consultant. Follow @thehrdigest on Twitter

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