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The Top Virtual Networking Skills for your Job Search and Career

Living in this new normal caused by pandemic where people are not able to meet in-person or convene in large groups can make professional networking quite difficult. Job seekers and Executive Recruiters that are looking to grow their networks are doing so online now. What skills are needed to successfully develop valuable connections virtually in order to add to your network? In addition, how can you better market yourself to those within your professional industry? Follow this helpful guide to learn more.

Be memorable and leave an impression

Without the ability to provide facial and emotional cues, networking virtually can pose a huge challenge. Generally, when speaking in-person, conversation can be more relaxed and often times more spontaneous. When networking online, how can we leave a similar impression? One way is to contribute meaningful insight to any conversation. Offer gratitude to those taking time out of their day to speak with you. Provide a company recommendation or pass along a fellow networkers’ resume to another individual. Small sentiments such as these will go a very long way and you will likely leave a positive impression on those that you interact with. Connections that you speak with either over video conference, email, or another virtual method will be much more likely to remember you fondly by taking simple steps to genuinely connect with them.

Empathize with those in your network

Everyone is busy and distracted, especially in the midst of a world-wide health crisis. It is important to not take an ignored LinkedIn message or a promise that was never followed-through personally. Instead, understand and empathize that people are struggling. Try to leave some positive messages in the inbox of those in your network to perhaps brighten their days and provide something to look forward to. You never know who those people are connected with as well. Your name may come to mind when they hear of an open position and forward your resume and qualifications to hiring managers for consideration. When networking, always be mindful of how you can help others in their job search efforts. This is not the time to be selfish. Look out for others and they will surely also look out for you. Your direct connections are invaluable and can help to shape or guide the trajectory of your career.

Keep it authentic and genuine

While networking is mainly occurring online at this time, people might be tempted to edit themselves. This can include re-writing a LinkedIn posting multiple times or exaggerating information about yourself in order to give a false self-representation. Consequently, your connections will not get to know the true you and what type of employee you could be for an organization.

Instead, try communicating off the cuff in a natural manner. Be yourself and speak in a sincere tone conveying that you are listening. Make sure that your communications are personalized per who you are speaking with. Do not send out standardized messages that read dry and lacking emotion. These messages will quickly become lost in the recipient’s trash folder with no possibility for response.

Use technology to your advantage

Use any and all resources at your disposal to help strengthen your online professional network. LinkedIn is probably the best tool to use to help introduce yourself and to start a conversation. LinkedIn allows you to search via specific companies or by professional associations for example, which enables you to narrow results much more accurately. Another method is to join various groups on the platform. You can join thread discussions and connect with those who might have similar work experience. Other forms of technology will include video conferencing, telephones, webinars, and the list goes on.

Join an online forum or virtual meet-up

Join an online chat forum to engage with those in your given field. You could certainly learn something new or contribute meaningful insight to a subject related to your industry. This can be a great opportunity to introduce yourself to thought leaders and innovators that are leading these forums. Additionally, attend a virtual meet-up over Zoom or another video conferencing platform. Putting a face to a name will be helpful in creating connections across your network.

Regularly check-in with your connections

Once you have established various connections, it is very important to regularly check-in with these people. This is especially significant in order to stay relevant in someone’s mind. Don’t allow yourself to become forgotten. Instead, send an email or LinkedIn message at least once a month with a friendly note or well wish. When you do need a favor or assistance from this person, they should be much more willing to help as you have been making a conscious effort to maintain a professional relationship. Keep in mind to not only reach out to new connections, but also to continue to contact those that have been apart of your network for some time.

Virtual networking comes with challenges that are new to the working public. How can we successfully navigate this uncharted way of forming professional relationships? Develop a deep awareness of those in your current network and complete a mental audit. This includes asking yourself if any of these people can potentially become a valuable resource during a future job search? Or can any of these individuals vouch for your professional abilities and come to these conclusions virtually? All-in-all, enabling yourself to develop skills to better communicate with others will ultimately strengthen your network and hopefully help in your efforts of sourcing new employment opportunities.

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