Above is the Linkedin Live I did on the same topic some time back.
Work from home. Social distancing. Networking events suspended.
We’ve switched to virtual to get our work done. From networking events to webinars, we’ve gotten a lot done online.
However, seems like social distancing is going to continue for a while.
In times when Zoom fatigue is setting in and the novelty of the online world is fading, do we give up on networking?
This may not be an option – for anyone, actually. But especially if you are a student waiting for job offers at the end of your term or an entrepreneur looking at continuing sales in this slack period.
So what do we do to make sure that social distancing and absence of networking events don’t affect out connections and socialising?
Here are a few tips:
Nurture your current relationships
We are all online now but that doesn’t mean we can’t pick up the phone and talk to people we already know!
Our best bet to stay in touch with our network is to nurture the present connections.
Drop them a message or fix a time to get on a phone call with them. You don’t need to set a specific agenda.
I have appreciated calls from connections during the lockdown just to catch up. You can do that say once a month or so – through calls and messages, so that it’s not overwhelming either.
The idea is to stay in touch and have people remember you despite not seeing you.
Get online – I mean purposefully!
I know all of us dabble on Facebook and check Insta feeds for fun. But now getting online needs to be serious and purposeful.
How do we do that?
Choose your platforms carefully. Figure out your work and social needs. Pick one platform each.
Clearly write down your goals and how will you use the platforms to achieve them.
For instance, if you are on Linkedin for personal branding as a student, figure out what kind and how many people will you connect with everyday.
Without set goals, it is easy to get lost in the randomness of the home feed.
Since virtual is the only option, this is not a license to scroll through social feeds for hours on end.
You don’t want to spend hours going through feeds and achieve nothing. This will only leave you fatigued and gain nothing.
Cal Newport, the author of DeepWork talks about how compulsive use of social media benefits only the platform owners. So our aim should be to move from compulsive to controlled use to get the best out of it.
Block times in a day when you go online specifically for networking – to fulfil social goals of a particular platform.
While earlier, twice or thrice a week was good enough, we may need to do it more often now that our lives are centered around virtual networking.
Create a strategy
Lack of strategy can be a death knell to your networking endeavours. Don’t post random content because that’s how your brand is going to be – random.
At least for business networking purposes, post content that focuses on your target audience and the services you want to sell.
Look at online avenues where your target audience is – groups, communities, hashtags, 2nd, 3rd connections – all these can point to the content and people you are looking to connect with.
Some of the things you can include in your content strategy are – industry news, content showcasing your expertise, videos about your products/services, polls (on Linkedin) and posts that start a conversation by asking people for their opinions.
Engage in conversations
In the virtual world, commenting on other people’s posts is the best way to start and indulge in conversations.
This is one of the ways to draw attention to your own profile.
One useful trick is to follow hashtags in your industry and engage with content on it.
This way you will easily meet people who have common interests.
Again, set a block of time everyday to do just this – you could also randomly comment on posts that appeal to you. But sometimes, it may feel like you have done enough after just a few comments.
But how much is enough?
Gary V calls it the $1.80 strategy to build your following on social media. This means you leave your 2 cents worth of comment on 90 posts a day! They could be top posts in your industry, trending posts in general, highly followed hashtags etc.
By choosing your content wisely and leaving your comments on them, you can attract the right kind of people to connect with you.
Join virtual communities
To connect with more like minded people join industry forums, attend webinars or participate in virtual events.
Join industry forums, attend webinars or participate in virtual events.
This would be the equivalent of off-line networking events.
Once you strike a conversation online, you can continue it on emails or messages.
What are the strategies that you’ve been using to network and nurture your relationships with them?
If you’d like to have a conversation about your virtual communication needs, you can comment below, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Linkedin.