How does one network in the days of a pandemic? Can we even really call it networking if we’re limited to video calls and Zoom meetings? Very similar to the efforts of online dating, it’s vital that job seekers and professionals join the virtual world to network and build relationships.
Before the pandemic, networking meant going to events, in-person CPE or continuing education seminars and business or industry conferences. These events allowed you to meet new people and develop a wider net of like-minded professionals who you could potentially reach out to should you need assistance or help to find new opportunities.
But now, we are socially distanced. We aren’t even shaking hands. How do you find and connect with people during this global pandemic?
LinkedIn is a prime spot to start your virtual networking activities. If you already have a LinkedIn account, then update that profile, get more active and expand your virtual network! If you don’t, now is the time to make one and begin networking in a virtual world.
Making business connections in a virtual world is a brand-new challenge for job seekers and those who have been recently displaced, but there are also some familiar cues we can take from the world of online dating. I’ve outlined three tips for how best to utilize LinkedIn to network and to find your next role, along with some fun references.
1. Updating Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn can be useful in expanding your network and joining in on virtual conversations. The first step is to set up or update your LinkedIn profile. Recruiters will be able to find you, and human resource industry professionals will be able to conduct a search and see your profile pop up.
Your profile should be fully developed, and your resume should reflect exactly what is on your profile for consistency. Here are a few suggestions on getting your profile in top shape to be a networking success:
- Business casual or professional picture
- Have a strong summary statement (your elevator speech)
- Include all roles, titles and details of your responsibilities
- Request recommendations
- Post your resume on LinkedIn
2. Expand Your Network
In the online dating arena, when you choose to match with someone, you “swipe right.” In a similar way, LinkedIn is a virtual tool to allow you to connect and “match” with other professionals, human resource connections and motivational icons.
There is no need to be selective when requesting to connect with individuals. This is your opportunity to treat LinkedIn like your own personal conference or networking event. Search for individuals in your area, in your industry, with your degree, etc.
Who should be in your virtual network?
- Connect with industry leaders
- Follow companies you are interested in
- Connect with your professors and school mates
- Connect with Human resource and recruiting professionals
Requesting to connect is a great way to jumpstart your virtual presence!
3. Get Active in Sharing Your Content and Perspectives
This is where the corporate matchmaking comes in to play. Being visible is key! Don’t be in the corner of the room and stand at your own high top. You need to work the “room,” which, in this case, is social feeds.
Join groups and begin conversations or make comments, but remember that there are pitfalls to avoid when taking your networking virtual.
It’s important to balance the personal information shared with the professional details and history. You wouldn’t go on a date and only talk about work; that is a sure-fire way to not get a second date! But you also want to remember that your profile is going to be seen by professionals and potential employers.
Provide some insights into your personality and your interests by including your community service roles, your certifications and your interests. The key is to make sure the bulk of your profile is focused on your employable skills, education, work experience and certifications.
Another pitfall is to avoid using LinkedIn as a sounding board for controversial topics. There are so many social media platforms that can be used for personal topics and social conversations. LinkedIn should be used as a business tool for business-related topics. Everyone is allowed their opinions and can voice their beliefs, but keep in mind that what is posted online is made open to all types of interpretations, and it could be an issue for future employment.
Developing Your LinkedIn Skills in a Virtual World
This is just the very beginning of the virtual world of networking, and just like wanting that second date, you want to be accepted online and make connections.
To do this, develop your network and find the people you want to follow. Connect with the professionals you want to notice you. Update your resume and your LinkedIn profile. Make sure you are consistent and provide relevant content about your skills and history. Keep the conversation professional, but include your beliefs and interests. Without the personal flare, you are removing a piece of your value! Just make sure it stays professional.
We are all in a new world, and until we can meet again in person, just do your best to put your professional self out there and connect with this virtual world we now find ourselves in. If you have any questions, connect with a Warren Averett Staffing & Recruiting advisor who can help.