March 23, 2021
Five Ways to Network Virtually
Has quarantine got you stuck in a networking rut? Are you looking to build your contacts or clients, but unsure of where to start? Here are five ways to network virtually—keeping you connected, even from afar.
Use Social Media Tools to Build your Contact List
Though it can be daunting and sometimes messy, social media is definitely your friend in navigating the realm of digital networking. Facebook and LinkedIn are two of the most popular choices—Facebook for connecting with larger businesses, LinkedIn for individuals. Instead of cold “friending” or “linking,” consider joining career-specific groups and pages. Create a post to introduce yourself, then interact with others’ content to boost your profile within the cohort.
However, don’t feel like you have to go to a traditionally “professional” platform to build your network. If you are an Instagram devotee, try following, interacting with, or direct messaging accounts that are on your “dream job” list. Try creating a company Pinterest page to take advantage of their incredible SEO tools. Even TikTok has stores of businesses and potential clients ready to learn your story. Whichever outlet feels right, is right.
Keep a List of Contacts—and Reach Out Regularly
It seems like a simple idea but keeping an ongoing contact spreadsheet is an invaluable networking tool. You’d be surprised how many people you’ve come across once you see them listed out plainly. Reach out via email or phone regularly—not too much to seem over eager, but enough to maintain top-of-mind awareness.
The Peña Search Network Organizer is the perfect place to organize contacts and record outreach. You can download it free of charge here.
Organize for a Virtual Coffee or Happy Hour
Though it may seem awkward or forward, asking for a virtual coffee or happy hour is both normal and practical. Spend time making your background look clean and polished, pour yourself your favorite beverage and know that if anything goes poorly, you are just a “Leave Meeting” click away from safety!
If the idea of a virtual meeting makes you uncomfortable, consider organizing an informal virtual event. Invite friends or colleagues to fill out your Zoom Room—and the conversation. Even if just a few people join in, you’ll both expand your network and earn bonus points for organization and initiative.
Seek Out Existing Virtual Networking Programs
Networking newbies can take comfort in knowing that there are plenty of online events, conferences and networking sessions just a click away. Eventbrite has a great database of programs that can be organized by date, location and interest areas. Also check out local coworking spaces, business and trade associations and professional development groups—many of them have moved some or all of their operations online.
Don’t Be Afraid to Step Outside of the Box
In times like these, being bold will get you far. If you’ve been there, done that on virtual networking, consider putting yourself out there in other ways. Purchasing digital ads, creating video content for new social platforms, pitching your story to local media outlets, or forging partnerships with other individuals and businesses are great ways to expand your reach.