Professional Networking Online – How and Where to Do It

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As millions of layoffs around the world are already attributed to COVID-19 and the end of government support programs fast approaching in many countries, economists predict that before the end of the year, millions of others around the world will find themselves unemployed.

Others have projected that this number could be even higher. This will mean a lot of people looking for a job at the same time.

There are ways to stand out in a crowded job market, whether you’ve been made redundant or feeling less secure about your future.

Working on your personal brand and dedicating time to professional networking is a great place to start, but with the pandemic ending physical meetings, events, and conferences, it’s harder than ever to build rapport with people. new connections.

Fortunately, there are a number of digital alternatives in the form of webinars, online communities and forums, social media platforms, and virtual events, where individuals can meet and connect with new people, exchange ideas and showcase their skills.

The starting point for many is LinkedIn, and with an estimate 700 million active users, it’s not hard to see why, but it shouldn’t be the only place you’re active.

The sheer size of LinkedIn means that the chances of finding people to connect with and network are very high. But more recent changes to the platform, including useful features from the removed groups, a growing number of ads in the feed, “ won’t take no for an answer, ” business development contacts and behaviors. Some people’s “ spammed ” can make it feel a bit impersonal and out of place at times.

If you’re ready to make more meaningful connections, stand out professionally, get a new role, or just take your career to the next level, maybe it’s time to branch out and try out more places and less. obvious for professional networking.

Online professional communities and forums

One of the most valuable things about online communities and forums is that you can find niche groups that are truly suited to your industry, skills, region, or circumstances.

This allows for particularly insightful conversations with people you will often end up staying in touch with for years to come.

Remember, professional networking isn’t just about trying to land your next job, it’s about sharing ideas, best practices, listening and engaging, and building long-term relationships. with people who could play an important role in your future career.

It’s also about building trust and communities are great for that. While there is absolutely no shame in being made redundant or losing your job, especially under these current circumstances, it can be difficult to get up and come back there, but the support and encouragement of your colleagues can do wonders.

Just like a personal recommendation. If someone you speak with regularly knows someone else you’d like to know, or even someone is recruiting for a position that interests you, don’t be afraid to ask for a personal introduction.

Video conferencing and virtual events for professionals

While most physical events naturally could not take place in their original format, virtual alternatives have become the norm, whether it is logging in for a full day itinerary of presentations in line and keynote addresses, or your usual networking group hosting an informal zoom session on Friday afternoon. for a catch-up with your favorite drink in hand.

Virtual roundtables are also a great way to advance discussions with valuable contacts in your industry, if you’re looking for a more focused conversation.

If you’re not already part of a networking group, but want to, check with your professional body or membership association for options, or take a look to see what’s available in your area.

You can also find specific and more informal groups, such as networking groups around a specific industry challenge, for example diversity or best practices in your industry or groups for a specific level of professional seniority. , such as business leaders or independent digital marketing or marketing. specialists.

Online profiles and portfolios

The way you actively engage with professional online platforms is only half of your personal brand. What people find out when they meet your name online is also part of your professional identity and it could happen in terms of content, social media and online profiles.

Ensuring consistent wording, images, and information across these platforms, as well as making sure they’re up to date with the right skills, experience, and talent you want to showcase helps you deliver the best version. from yourself online to the right people, and helps others start networking conversations with you.

Understanding the Etiquette of Professional Online Networking

A big part of adjusting to professional networking in a predominantly digital world is understanding the etiquette involved. When you’re behind a keyboard, with no social and non-verbal cues to draw inspiration from, it’s even more important than ever to listen and engage before you share.

Think of it less as an elevator pitch, and more like a two-way conversation. And don’t expect to leave this conversation with a “sale” or a “win”. Give more than you expect in return. This is especially true when it comes to forums where a tough sell will often not be tolerated. Such groups often take years of hard work to cultivate the kind of atmosphere and culture that have been created by its members, so it is important to respect and maintain this.

It’s also best to think twice before sharing controversial views. While this can be fine in person and in your personal social networks (depending on your privacy settings!), It’s essential to read the room before sharing them on a business platform – and it’s not always easy. to do online. If in doubt, keep it to yourself.

As with any relationship, the bonds you create through networking must be nurtured. Getting in touch with like-minded professionals is only half the journey; taking the time to nurture these connections can provide you with meaningful support that lasts throughout your career.

Ashley Friedlein is the CEO and founder of Guild, an app designed for businesses, professional groups, networks and communities that want the benefits of messaging – ease of use, immediacy, privacy, engagement – but also care about privacy, quality, legal compliance and professional support and service standards. As easy to use as WhatsApp, ad-free and GDPR compliant.

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