By Andrea Jastrebski

It’s fair to say that doing things in a new way during COVID-19 is a trend we can all get behind. Staying connected to our professional networks is not cancelled; in fact, online networking may be more available to us now than it has been in the past. 

Online connection is happening more frequently these days, and it’s more welcomed than it has been in the past. While this may be true, there are ways to make the most of this networking opportunity without overwhelming colleagues with messages and virtual coffee meetings. Below are some practical tips to guide your networking efforts in the coming months so you can continue to boost social connection, even while maintaining a physical distance.

Stay active on your professional social media – let people know you’re around and working.
  1. Point your networking energies at your own social media profiles and other personal information collateral. As a courtesy to those who may be wondering about you go ahead and update your online profiles, websites and other personal media to let people know what you’re up to and what your current status is. Being social media current is a good way to let folks know that you’re still active and continuing on about your business. People are also looking at LinkedIn to stay in contact with their inner and outer circles, and it’s a helpful gesture to let people know your status. 
  1. Help out your outer network circles without asking them to do anything for you. Head over to their social accounts and find simple ways to engage, like commenting on or liking content shared by colleagues or potential colleagues. Share any relevant content that aligns with your brand and content strategy. Doing this can benefit your networking efforts in a couple of ways. First, you’ll be letting people know that you’re vested in the success of their initiatives and efforts during this time, and second, it will open a line of communication to let people know that you are interested in staying connected until a better time to meet in-person.
  1. Share your stories of successes, challenges, innovations and pandemic lessons. Consider what it looks like to connect with your inner network these days. These are the people that you want to connect with, but perhaps a new email or direct message might not be the answer right now. This article posted by Social Media Today suggests that a great way to connect is to write an article or blog about what you or your business is going through and how you’re navigating and managing changes. As business professionals, we are all learning how to navigate the new way of working, so consider that your insights and shared successes will offer your professional network a lot without adding to anyone’s email volume. Your colleagues will appreciate the thoughtful and helpful contribution and you can save the more personal chats for next time you see them. 
  1. Check-in with your clubs, groups, and associations. Many of these networks are still active and are delivering events in new and creative ways through Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, Event Bright and online webinars. You could even plan your own virtual event and invite contacts. The best part about planning your own event is that you can tailor it to helping your contacts and network in your own unique way. 

Networking is essential to maintaining our professional endurance. While we might not be shaking hands, dawning our best blazers, or exchanging carefully crafted business cards, we still have access to making connections virtually, creatively, and thoughtfully with all of our clients, potential clients, coworkers, colleagues and friends. Stay connected, share successes, help in any way you can to let your network know that you’re there for them.

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