ExecutiveChronicles.com | Tips and Tricks to Virtually Network Online |Typo-free, freshly-printed resumes, firm handshakes, and readily-available business cards. These used to be the cornerstones of professional networking. Now, however firm handshakes and printed resumes are being replaced with Zoom waves and emailed Word documents as we adapt to a new virtual era. The staples of traditional professional networking need to be re-evaluated as networking moves from in-person to online.
This transition comes with a slate of new challenges. Virtual networking can be a needle in the haystack situation. Yes, you have a broader reach (nearly anyone with a laptop or phone), but with more people, it’s harder to find that perfect niche to help your career advancement. Not to mention the technical difficulties of virtual networking. What if your Wi-Fi shuts down mid-meeting? What if your audio glitches just as you’re about to make a point? What if you send an incorrect meeting link or worse yet, show up in the wrong virtual meeting room?
Put to rest these what-ifs and learn how to find that prized needle in the haystack by reading through this guide on how to master virtual networking. It includes some niche platforms for networking, the dos and don’ts of virtual etiquette, and what job seekers could be doing to better their odds in this virtual environment.
If you’re a digital designer then connecting with a writer probably isn’t your best bet for career development. However, if you’re a digital designer and you find a niche group of illustrators or animators, then it’s more likely you’ll be able to find a mentor or professional connection to advance in your specific field. Niche networking platforms like Dribble, The Dots, Create & Cultivate and Shapr can be more effective than LinkedIn for skill-based vocations.
Additionally, etiquette has changed in the digital era. There used to be a long checklist of things to make sure you come across polished and put together when you socialize at professional networking events. Black ink pens, a dozen resumes, an ironed wardrobe. However, now when you’re at the comfort of your own home connecting professionally, it’s easy to fall into informal tendencies. For example, wearing an ironed button-up shirt on top, but sweatpants on the bottom. This is also an example of what not to do. Even though you’re at home, you want to come across as professional as possible.
This includes paying attention to your Zoom mannerisms, your virtual setup, your conversation topics, and your software. On Zoom, there are a few features you can use to navigate a virtual meeting like the mute button. During a professional networking meeting, keep yourself unmuted the entire time. Muting yourself can signal you’re checked out or uninterested. Of course, the exception to this is if you have a noisy background. If that’s the case, the mute button is your friend, but avoid even having to do that by paying attention to your virtual environment when networking online.
Your virtual setup leaves an impression during a videoconference meeting. If you have a disorganized countertop in the background not only is it distracting to the other meeting attendees, it is also a poor representation of how you carry yourself. Make sure you pay special attention to your Zoom background before you join a virtual networking call. This means decluttering your space, minimizing distractions, and testing your Wi-Fi prior to the call.
So, you have some tips on how to come across as professional as possible while virtual networking. Still, you may be asking yourself what if I don’t have any virtual meetings lined up? No worries, there are plenty of tips to get your calendar full of virtual networking events. Aim to make 100 new LinkedIn connections a month, follow brands you’d like to work for on social media and add remote-friendly keywords to your resume. By learning how to leverage digital tools, you can easily connect with decision-makers at companies.
In this turbulent job market, hustling goes a long way, however, being strategic about where you expend your energy goes even further. This means becoming an expert at virtual networking and understanding how you can make use of the social platforms you use personally every day to advance your career.