Yes, it is a new year and you want to start fresh with more connections. But how do you network during a pandemic?
Networking prior to the pandemic was a challenge, so you might think it is close to impossible during a pandemic. While there certainly are challenges, networking during a pandemic is not an insurmountable task.
It might take some adjustment on everyone’s part, but businesses were able to adapt to all the changes that COVID-19 required; social behaviors will also adapt.
There have been many rapid changes that have occurred as a result of the pandemic, so it is essential that you think outside of the box when it comes to networking.
The changes that everyone has endured has brought to light the importance of interaction and being on good terms with the people in your life.
If you are someone who typically shies away from interacting with coworkers or making new friends, and 2020 was supposed to be your year to break out of your shell and put yourself out there more, it wasn’t delightful to have to stay home for your safety.
You have more than likely figured out how to stay in touch with family and friends; networking might take a little more work on your part. Once you put in the work, before you know it, you will be expanding your network.
Once you start expanding your network, you might find that you enjoy networking virtually instead of face-to-face.
With that, let us take a look at a few of the ways to network during a pandemic.
Start Networking Within Your Current Firm
Your company might have ways to network virtually.
Many companies have implemented coffee breaks, lunchtime trivia, and similar events that are held virtually to allow employees to interact.
This is extremely beneficial for you if you are seeking to grow and progress within the company as well. The more you are able to understand the needs within the company, work with other people in different departments, and become more of a known entity with the firm, the more likely you can create new roles and become a part of new departments or opportunities.
The next point is that while COVID-19 may be raging in some places, it is essential to remember that different places are still moving on as normal. Offices, malls, restaurants, and more are open in many places and able to have a certain capacity limit as stated by local laws.
That means that networking in-person is not out of the picture but is still a viable option, even now. You can still have lunches and dinner with responsible and trusted co-workers and other people who are interested in meeting in a socially distanced manner.
Networking during a pandemic does not have to be as stressful as many people may make it out to be.
Leverage Your Existing Connections to Network During A Pandemic
The largest point to remember is that your existing network is a goldmine. That means that they can steer you in the right direction; all you have to do is start reaching out and asking for guidance.
Focus on people with who you went to school with, or you have worked within the past. They may be in a position to point you in the right direction. Life is all about serendipity and maximizing it for productive purposes.
Here is how to approach the situation when looking for more connections in this climate. Ask them how they are doing and how they are getting along in the present situation, then let them know how you are doing and what you are trying to do.
See, whenever you network, you must have a specific goal in mind. This enables you to be more specific and helps people understand where you are trying to go and how they can help you get there. This is true if you are networking during a pandemic or during regular times.
It is essential for you to know your intent when going into these areas and being very clear about your goals, accomplishments, and what you have done to make real progress.
Virtual Conferences Are A Great Resource When Networking During a Pandemic
Make sure to do your research beforehand as to who will be at the conference.
After the conference, be sure to reach out. Rejection is not fun to deal with, but you might miss out on great opportunities if you do not put yourself out there.
Online Forums and Industry Associations
Another way to network during a pandemic is to make sure that you are taking advantage of the many online forums that relate to your field and sector. The trick here is to not get lost in endless banter but to have a few chats and move on to other aspects of your life. Then, come back, and check in so that you have a little bit of movement and variance while you employ your network during a pandemic strategy.
Focus On Simplicity During Networking In The Pandemic
Meeting new people is beneficial for your network and has a reminder that there are individuals who are similar to you out there in the world.
New friendships can mean job satisfaction, but also contentment within your daily life.
When meeting new people, remember that you are not trying to sell the other person on yourself as an individual. You might meet someone and think that you have a great connection, but then never hear back from that person.
This is not necessarily a reflection on you. You do need to know what you bring to the table when networking.
What makes you great? Why should someone else want to connect with you?
It is important to keep in touch with people because if you only reach out to people when you need something, it might not be received well.
Networking Should be Mutually Beneficial
See if there is anything you can do to help others out. Not only is this a good habit to have, but that person will be more likely to be wanting to help in the future.
Make sure you have a purpose before reaching out to people. This is especially important on networking sites such as LinkedIn. While LinkedIn is a great resource, it can quickly turn into a hindrance and something that brings you down if you see that you are connected to many people, but there is no seeming value to all your connections.
When looking for a new job or career, try not to reach out to connections and be blunt. When asking your contacts for advice on a career or job opportunity, make sure to phrase your question in a professional manner that you can.
Remember that it is not about you and your student loans or other problems, it is about how you can help.
Yes, it is difficult to network during a pandemic but it does not have to be complex. Find out what you want to do and start reaching out to people within your network get started right away.