So many aspects of the way we communicate and work have had to shift online thanks to COVID-19, and networking is no different.
And with a more competitive job market now, building and making use of your network is more important than ever.
But there are plenty of ways you can do this digitally or remotely. Even if you’ve never done it before or the thought makes you a little uneasy, networking doesn’t have to be difficult or overly formal. It’s simply a way to connect with people professionally, to share ideas and information – and over time this can build you a support base and even open up opportunities.
Here’s a simple guide to networking well in this new environment.
A network can include your friends and family, past and present co-workers, and tertiary educators says Lois Keay-Smith, online career practitioner at Career Wisdom. It also spans your contacts on social media or other forums, especially those you regularly engage with, even if you’ve never met face to face. And increasingly in a digital world, it’s not just who you’re connected to, but who they know that further builds and bolsters your network.
When times are tough, a network can help you hear of opportunities before they’re advertised, and potentially even give you a boost when you’re being considered for a role,” says Keay-Smith.
If your role has been made redundant or you’ve lost your job due to COVID-19, let people know that you’re looking for work and what you’re interested in, and encourage them to keep their ear to the ground, says Linda Jeffrey, National Vice President at the Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA).
“Someone you know may hear of an opportunity they ordinarily wouldn’t associate with your career aspirations, so it is important you clarify how wide a net you are casting. Back this up with information on how you are skilled and qualified enough to be considered and ask them to pass this on if they know anyone in these fields,” Jeffrey says.
The basics of networking are the same online, but Jeffrey says the way we maintain and use our personal and professional networks will benefit from some adjustments in this new digital environment.
Digital tools are helping us connect, communicate and enhance our working lives more than ever, and networking is just one way to take advantage of this. Try these tips to build your own professional network – you even might find a support base you never knew existed.