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Tips for Effective Virtual Networking during COVID-19
The pandemic has compelled us to change the way we interact and communicate with each other, not only in the personal context but also a professional one. It is important to stay actively engaged with people within your industry or sector. Not only must relationships with current connections be nurtured, but new connections can be established, opening up new opportunities which could reap benefits well beyond the COVID period.
Is your profile updated?
Before you reach out to your connections, make sure that your profile is updated across not just professional networking platforms like LinkedIn but also on heavily used remote working tools such as Skype for Business. Before accepting your connection, your profile will be viewed and it will be the key factor to determine if people are interested in connecting with you or not.
Access to multiple apps
If you are trying to establish connections with people who are based across the world, it is important to understand the tools they are most comfortable connecting over. In the UAE, voice calls via Skype, WhatsApp and Viber are restricted. In China WeChat is popular. Apps like Telegram and Line are also heavily used apps across multiple countries. The idea is to be flexible and adapt your usage based on the preference of the contact you are trying to reach. Having the right data plan to make international phone calls and ensuring a stable internet connection are also going to be critical. Have you also considered connecting with your relevant audience on platforms like Twitter which facilitate one-to-one interactions?
Don’t just wait to receive invitations from people to connect with you. Take the time to research who the right people to connect with really are. Adding the right connections will raise your credibility. Are there any networking groups with online presence that would be relevant to your interests or industry? Joining professional communities require time (And sometimes monetary) investment but can prove more fruitful. Many communities also have LinkedIn and Facebook Groups – these are great platforms for networking virtually. Have you thought of connecting with your peers in other organizations within the same industry/sector? Have you looked up if different networks are hosting webinars with the objective of knowledge sharing? Try to participate across these various forums.
The golden rule in both business and networking is to find a way to add value. In a time when the world is undergoing a crisis, brands are looking for ways to meaningfully reach out to their consumers. The same applies to people. Popping out of the thin air can resonate negatively with the person you are trying to connect with. Try to find and communicate a personal context that will get you the attention and trust you are seeking.
Clarity of your message
Be clear in communicating your intention when reaching out to someone. Be brief and ensure your message is action-oriented. Avoid vague closing lines such as ‘Let me know if you’d like to chat.’ Think about what you can do for them or what they can do for you, and specify when you would like to connect with them.