Like many things that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the way in which we network, especially professionally, has changed drastically. That doesn’t need to hold you back from continuing to build your professional connections though. So how do you network when you’re sheltering in place? Here are our best practices to do just that.
Clean Up Your Digital Address Book
We’ve all been there, you go to reach out to someone and you’ve got four numbers and three email addresses for them and it’s a guessing game on which is active. Take this time while you’re in quarantine to clean up your contacts and make sure they sync up with your email address book as well. This will help make it easier to reach out to those in your network when the need or desire arises.
Offer Up Your Skills
One of the most selfless ways to build your network is to offer your skills. Whether it’s resume writing, SEO support or coding, many people are using this time to learn new skills. If you have a skill set that you think others might be looking for, offer up your time and knowledge to your network. The easiest way to do this is to make a post on LinkedIn listing your skills and saying if anyone is interested you are happy to spend a little time teleconferencing them to help. Perhaps the person you help works for a company you’ve been eyeing or they know someone you’ve wanted to connect with and would be willing to make the introduction now. Even if no one reaches out, the simple gesture is sure to garner some goodwill from those in your network who see your offer.
Set Up Informational Interview Calls
Informational interviews are probably one of the most underutilized tools in a networker’s arsenal but they are highly effective. An informational interview is a meeting set up for you to learn about the day to day of someone working in a field or at a company that interests you. The reason why these are so effective is that you’ll get first-hand candid information that you likely wouldn’t get in a typical interview, you’ll get first-hand insight into that role or company before you apply there and you’ll get tips to help you prepare for that particular career path or job. These meetings can certainly be done easily over the phone or video conferencing. Since many folks are home more they likely have more time on their hands to do this.
Invite Someone for a Virtual Coffee Meeting
Did you have a coffee meeting you were hoping to set up with someone in your network before all this social distancing started? No reason that can’t still happen, granted you’ll need to make a few modifications. Reach out to your contact to set up a time and send them over a video conferencing invite. While you’re talking to them, ask for their coffee order. On the day of, using a local coffee shop who’s offering delivery, send over their drink (with plenty of time for it of course). Then you can sip your coffees and connect via video as though you were at the coffee shop yourself. Bonus tip, if you have a delivery minimum to meet and they aren’t pastry folks, send a cookie or two for their kiddos and you’ll be a household hit!
Send a Thoughtful Letter
We know this might be simple but really who doesn’t love a little snail mail? Think of someone in your network you are grateful to, an old coworker, professor or mentor. Take the extra time you have to thank them for the impact they’ve had on your career and tell them you’re looking forward to connecting in person once this is all over. The gesture will go a long way and is no doubt sure to be appreciated.