By Kelsey Ferrill
We are living in an unprecedented period that most of us probably couldn’t have imagined before the world began hearing about COVID-19. In this time of uncertainty, networking may not be top of mind for most, as we are all just trying to get through our day-to-day routines. However, networking is now more important than ever.
Staying connected with family and friends can be done virtually through platforms such as Zoom, FaceTime or the fun app, House Party. Professional networking can also be done very effectively through online platforms as well. It is important to stay in touch with past or current professional contacts and reach out to new ones in this uncertain time. The unfortunate reality is that a lot of people have been laid off and don’t know if they will have a job to go back to when this pandemic ends – and no one really knows when it will end.
It’s important to develop and cultivate connections in the field that you are looking to get (back) into.
1. Use LinkedIn to cultivate a list of connections. These may be people in your current field of work that may help network, or contacts in your desired field of work that can provide more information on how to get into that industry. Search names of companies that you would like more information about and find people to reach out to that way. It’s like cold calling, only online.
2. Send emails to professional contacts you might have. Re-introduce yourself if necessary and let them know that you’re looking for work. They may know someone to put you in touch with.
3. Social media might not be thought of as the most professional space, but it is a good place to keep up with what is going on in the job market and keep in contact with professionals in a less formal way.
4. Reach out to anyone you might have worked with on past projects. For example, a journalist from Global Calgary interviewed me in January 2016 about the event I was holding. A couple of months later, I reached out and asked if she knew of any opportunities at Global, and she put me in contact with the managing editor about a summer internship, which I ended up getting. If I had not reached out, I definitely would not have had the chance to intern at Global Calgary.
5. Make sure to prepare a list of questions for your contacts so that you don’t miss out on anything you’d like to know.
Contacts really are everything and networking can very easily be done virtually, especially in isolation. These are certainly tough times and circumstances for everyone, but it is important to stay in close contact with your professional network. We can all help each other navigate this time and get back to a sense of normalcy (and maybe some new opportunities) when this pandemic ends.