We probably haven’t done much of it, at least in person, during the pandemic. And even though some of us will be returning to the office the hybrid working model here to stay, so chances are we still won’t be able to do as much of it as we were used to previously. Or can we?
Networking fills some of us with so much dread, yet it’s one of the most important areas we all need to focus on to get ahead in our careers, develop and grow those all important business relationships. Given that opportunities for face to face networking are now more limited, how can we continue to invest time and build our networks?
Whether you’re working in a customer facing role or not, it is imperative that you keep in touch and connect with your internal or external stakeholders. Professional platforms such as LinkedIn enable you to post and comment on articles as well as following and connecting with people. This is a great way to deepen and enhance existing contacts as well as nurture new ones. So make sure you dedicate time every day messaging or connecting with someone. It could be their birthday or work anniversary – there are an infinite number of opportunities for you to do so.
Put yourself out there and think of ways in which you can help others too by sharing your experiences and lessons that you’ve learned. You’ll not only be enhancing your reputation as a subject matter expert but as a genuine and authentic person whose skill set goes beyond the technical. We all need help at times in our careers, for example when we lose our jobs, so the more you invest in relationships the better chance you have of securing that next role.
Don’t forget internal networking. You’ll no doubt have plenty of remote Teams or Zoom calls and often these end abruptly as everyone by then has had enough! However, try dialling in 10 minutes before and someone will join early too, so you ask about how they’re getting on at work and at home. If you find that this isn’t effective, block some diary time with those colleagues that you work with regularly so that you can have a catch up. You’ll be surprised at how much you both will get out of it.
Sign up for a course, join a webinar or group. Share industry relevant information, offer some careers advice. There are a myriad of things you can do to network. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask advice, perhaps to established names in your industry or renowned business leaders that you admire. You’d be surprised at how willing people are to give up some of their time to talk to you. You could find a mentor in the process and your whole career could be transformed; equally you could mentor someone yourself.
Don’t go overboard with too many posts but at the same time don’t be the person who just likes or shares something their manager or company has posted. Just be authentic and put in the effort – you’ll be amazed at the results and you’ll feel great doing it.