Although in-person networking events – like conferences, seminars, and “business casual” meetups – have taken a backseat to virtual events due to COVID-19, job seekers can still network online successfully. In fact, virtual networking can be just as effective as in-person networking and comes with an added benefit: you can connect with anyone, anywhere, without leaving the comfort of your home.
If you’re looking to improve your virtual networking prowess or are simply unsure how to network online, this advice will guide you in the right direction.
If you’re not connected on social media, make sure you have a profile on a few of the major platforms, such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you have personal accounts already, you may benefit by creating a business profile so you can keep your personal and work lives separate.
Use a high-quality headshot for your profile picture and write a compelling bio that speaks to your talents and expertise in the field you’re pursuing. You could also put something in your bio that indicates you are looking for work opportunities.
Next, connect with like-minded individuals and other business associates on your platform of choice. You may be able to make a connection with someone at a company where you’d like to work. Once the connection is established, you can reach out, introduce yourself, and let the person know about your job goals. (Check out these helpful messaging templates to use in your outreach.)
Another way to build your network is by posting frequently and engaging with others on your favorite social media platforms.
You can write short articles or share videos related to trends in your chosen field. If you’re not a creator, you can post articles or videos from others in the industry, but don’t forget to add a short comment about the article or video to personalize it. While you’re at it, read and comment on other people’s posts, too; or start your own conversation about topics in the industry. This keeps your name and voice in your sector’s public sphere.
Joining online groups that align with your field of work is a great way to make new connections and potentially find a job. Facebook has a large number of groups, as does LinkedIn. After you join the group, be sure to ask questions, comment, and post relevant material.
You may also check out online communities and forums tied to industry-specific associations. Some associations may have local or regional chapters, allowing you to get involved on an even more personal level. Alumni networks, chambers of commerce, and nonprofits are also good places to start your search for virtual networking opportunities.
We’ve covered the easy parts of virtual networking – joining online groups, connecting on social platforms, and participating in industry-specific forums. Now, for the daunting part: attending virtual networking events.
Fortunately, getting the most out of virtual networking events requires many of the same tactics for tackling in-person events, with a few extra considerations:
Follow up with those you’ve “met” through a virtual networking event by connecting with them on social media or sending a quick email a day or two afterward. Stay in communication with them by interacting with their online posts or periodically checking in with a short message.
By staying in touch with these contacts, you’ll unlock new career opportunities. They may know of a job opening that would be a perfect fit for you. Or they may introduce you to someone in their network that could lead you to a job opportunity.
Need more networking tips? Check out our Career Advice library to learn how to connect with professionals in your industry (both in-person and online).