virtual networking

A Guide to Virtual Networking

By iHire | March 22, 2021

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.

Start By Building Your Social Media Presence

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.)

Be Active

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.

 

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Join a Group or Two

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.

employee participating in a video meeting

Attend Virtual Networking Events

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:

  • Create and practice your elevator pitch. Get ready to introduce yourself and briefly explain what you do and why you’re attending that particular event.
  • Update your resume and have a digital version available to share with prospective employers.
  • Jot down some icebreaker questions in advance – avoid the dreaded awkward silence.
  • Look at the attendee list ahead of time (if it’s made available) and pinpoint professionals you’d like to connect with.
  • Ensure you have the right virtual communication platform on your device and a strong internet connection.
  • Dress as you would for an in-person meetup. This will also help you get into a professional mindset and feel more confident.
  • Make eye contact and smile – avoid staring at your own video and select a virtual background that isn’t too distracting.
  • Ask questions and take notes. Be an active participant, not a fly on the wall.

Keep in Touch

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).


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