Networking is important for a variety of reasons. It’s well appreciated that networking expands opportunities in career and business. But likewise, it’s also helpful in developing social capital that enhances our personal lives in many ways. And networking provides a means to see new perspectives and learn new information. But since the pandemic struck, our traditional ways of networking have been affected. Networking during COVID thus requires a different approach.
While most quarantines have been lifted, many of us remain in some type of lockdown situation. Millions continue to work from home, and online education has become the norm. As a result, in-person encounters are much less frequent. Despite this, however, networking during COVID can be achieved and, in fact, done well. All it requires is a shift in your perspective and adopting some key networking tips to help you succeed.
You might just find your opportunities for networking during COVID may actually be better than they were before.
Networking Tip #1 – Expand Your Networking Opportunities
With your networking options more restrictive, expanding your potential opportunities for interactions is essential. In this regard, consider every social encounter as a potential chance to connect with someone. Walks around the neighborhood, grocery store conversations, and trips to school may offer such chances. Likewise, you can broaden your online opportunities for networking during COVID as well. Online discussions, professional groups, and interest-focused forums all offer great networking opportunities. Given that your physical presence is less, broadening your digital one is essential.
Networking Tip #2 – Leverage Your Current Contacts
Great networkers appreciate the value of their existing contacts. In all likelihood, you probably do as well. But each of us often loses tract of a few people on our list over time. Understanding that many people have more time at home during lockdowns, reconnecting with old contacts should also be considered. In addition, reaching out to your existing contacts for introductions is always a good idea. Strong networking connections are more likely when mutual acquaintances exist. These efforts allow you to leverage existing contacts to expand your online networking during COVID. This becomes more important as in-person interactions decline and you’re trying to network from home.
Networking Tip #3 – Be Relational and Sincere
Taking a transactional approach to networking is never a good idea. But when networking during COVID, such an approach can be the kiss of death. Being superficial and insincere reduces the chance to create a lasting relationship with someone. And given that most forms of communication currently are digital in nature, such risks are even more common. Therefore, take the time to truly get to know a new contact. Be real and sincere in your approach and listen carefully to what they have to say. Such an approach is always valued, and it will provider with a higher quality network of contacts in the process.
Networking Tip #4 – Always Look to Help and Connect
One of the most important insights regarding networking is that it’s about giving, not taking. This idiom remains true when networking during COVID as well. If order to build a strong, rich network of contacts, it’s important to help others in achieving their networking goals. This means always trying to connect others who share common or complementary interest, talents and needs. It similarly means providing information and insights to your current contacts to facilitate their success. This will create a positive impression of you and strengthen your existing relationships. And in turn, this will encourage others to introduce you to their contacts as well.
Networking Tip #5 – Be Empathetic and Patient
In addition to being helpful and relational, it’s similarly important to be patient and caring during this time. With all the changes with the pandemic, nearly everyone is feeling stressed. Therefore, networking during COVID requires that you be empathetic about what others might be experiencing. This means allowing extra time for someone to get back to you. Likewise, it means sincerely asking how they are doing while expressing your concern for their well-being. Small efforts in this regard can go a long way and further strengthen your existing network.
Networking Tip #6 – Show the Value You Add
In normal times, you would have an opportunity to better present yourself in person to a new acquaintance. Over coffee or lunch, you could gradually tell them all about your goals, your achievements, and your talents. But this is a bit more limited when networking during COVID. Online platforms do not always allow for such lengthy opportunities. Therefore, one networking tip to consider involves creating a succinct brand narrative of yourself. In a slide or a paragraph, you can highlight the things of which you’re most proud. This can quickly let someone know the value you bring to the relationship, which is beneficial for all.
Take the Chance to Break Bad Networking Habits
There are many ways to maximize your networking opportunities, even during COVID. But at the same time, you may have fallen into some bad habits in the past. As a result, this paradigm shift with the pandemic offers a great chance to try new things and embrace new approaches. For example, we often repeatedly engage people who have similar interests and share common features. In the process, we develop a network that is less diverse and quite homogeneous. Choosing to seek out contacts who have different perspectives and traits might represent a new strategy to consider.
Even if you are quite proficient at networking, pandemic lockdowns demand that new strategies be pursued. The networking tips provided can certainly help you when networking during COVID. By using these as a guide, you will be more likely to develop a healthy network of connections that will serve you well. Networking during COVID might be more challenging, but it’s not impossible. With the right attitude and approach, you’ll find networking opportunities abound and continue to exist even in these unusual times.
COVID-19 has proved to be a pretty big challenge. To read more about how people have overcome challenges, check out Ed Kopko’s PROJECT BOLD LIFE: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success!