How to network during the coronavirus pandemic
Stay social while social distancing.
Around the world, people are staying home to slow the spread of coronavirus. At a time when people are social distancing, there is even more of a need to be social, albeit from afar. People are relying on technology to help them stay connected to everything from meetings and job interviews to friends and family. You can also use technology to meet new people and strengthen your professional network.
People often associate networking with small talk, elevator pitches, and stacks of business cards. But the key to successful networking is to get to know people, have genuine conversations, and provide value. You could learn about a job opening, get career advice, find a mentor, meet a future co-worker or colleague and vice versa.
Right now, people are working remotely, managing businesses virtually, on furlough, and/or taking care of their friends and family, as well as their own physical and mental health. Reframe networking by leading with how you can provide value to other people as they navigate this new normal.
Share your skills
Take a cue from the sudden influx of virtual learning opportunities and share your skills. Fitness instructors can take to social media to share free or discounted at-home workouts. Teachers can host virtual classes on social media for parents who are struggling to work and homeschool. Financial planners can share money advice for small business owners and individuals. Accountants can help people understand tax relief programs and new filing deadlines. Techies can teach people how to use FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, Slack, and other tools for staying connected in their personal and professional lives. Whatever you're good at, make authentic connections by using your expertise to create value for other people.
Find online networking opportunities
Industry organizations, college career services departments, and alumni groups are hosting online networking events so people can connect safely. Talk to likeminded people in Facebook Groups, Slack teams, or LinkedIn groups. Learn new skills and job search tips, join conversations, and, most importantly, provide value. Write meaningful comments and share your knowledge.
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, send an email.
Normally it is a good idea to email your strongest professional connections once every quarter or often enough that you don’t just reach out when you have a favor—like that you’d love for them to be a reference for your job search or pass your resume along to their friend who works at your target company.
Network with your colleagues
Whether it is online or in-person, the best way to network with your current colleagues is to impress them by doing a great job and being great to work with. The soft skills that will impress people the most in the remote-work world are communication, time-management, independence, and prioritization.
Check in with your manager and team more often than you might otherwise, and keep them aware of what you are working on and what you’ve finished. Ask if there is anything else you can help with. Better yet, if you see projects that need to be done or ways something can improve, offer to tackle them. Reread all your emails and chat messages before sending them to see if there are ways you can organize the information more clearly like by having lists, bullet points, and action items.
Your co-workers will be impressed by your organization, dedication, and proactivity—and they’ll be grateful, especially if they are at home with young kids, taking care of someone, or feeling mentally or physically unwell.
You never know what people are going through in their personal lives. People you meet through online networking and in your existing professional network could have a lot on their plates during this very uncertain and upsetting time. Connect with them on social media so you can get a sense of how they are doing and if they are active online.
Social media is normally a highlight reel, but people have been more vulnerable and open lately. Use it or email as the first place you connect with someone, and only ask for a call or video chat if it is necessary or if they initiate. And remember that one of the best ways you can help your co-workers and loved ones is to make sure that you take care of your own mental and physical health so you can be (virtually) there for them.
Could you use more help making professional connections during this time? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads. Those are two quick and easy ways Monster can help your career continue to move forward.