Three Ways to Network During a Season of Social Distancing
Networking is the foundation of a strong and successful brand. Collaborating with others not only increases your customer base, but also provides connections that can lead to collaborations, brainstorms, and brand developments. While networking during a pandemic can seem impossible, here are three simple ways to make networking happen while still staying safe.
Focus on helping people, not on getting them to help you. A common focus of networking is how to get the other party to help you or your business in some way. However, Elana Lyn Gross points out in her article on Forbes that it’s especially important to focus on others in this season of social distancing. Gross explains that it’s important to cultivate “authentic connections by using your expertise to create value for other people. Share your skills with your community.” Whether it’s teaching your old teacher how to use Google Classroom, sharing about a resource that a friend of yours has put together, or simply reaching out in gratitude to people who have influenced you, Gross highlights the importance of building genuine and lasting connections through focusing on supporting, championing, and adding value to your community.
Let maintenance take a front seat.CreateCultivate quotes this insight from Alexis Andra, Founder of Shift Creative: “The key to successful networking is building and maintaining relationships.” While it’s important to reach out and meet new people, don’t forget to check in with your long-time contacts. These old contacts may provide fresh insight, new connections, or simply a reminder of why you started your company in the first place. Remember relationships during this time of distancing. Choose to call up an old coworker or set up a video meeting with your friend who’s in the same industry. As Andra suggests, get creative and set up a fun digital event for people to attend. Andra focuses on “community” over “networking.” When you think of networking as a way to cultivate and build community, you will make and maintain meaningful relationships that impact both your professional and personal life.
Be organized. Organization is key in virtually all areas of the professional world, but it is especially vital when conducting a virtual networking meeting. As this article on GoGather explains, “set expectations and keep the conversation going.” Instead of creating a meeting for professionals to gather and then just hoping that things go smoothly, be proactive and brainstorm ideas for making the meeting enjoyable, engaging, and effective. For instance, GoGather suggests explaining the expectations at the beginning of your event, creating a list of questions that you can ask if the event needs a little boost, and utilizing fun icebreakers in the beginning to help people feel comfortable. This extra step of planning will enable you to host a fun and successful meeting.
While networking in today’s socially-distanced workforce is challenging, take courage that you are up to the challenge. By implementing these three steps, you will be well on your way to creating and cultivating connections across the workplace that will last a lifetime.