It’s not easy to book that ‘coffee catch-up’ these days, especially with someone you’ve never met before. Traditional networking protocol is being challenged, along with most other business norms. Yet, as people lose jobs, contracts are put on pause, and consultants get back into search mode, networking will become more important than ever. That’s why it’s important to remember that it’s still possible and plausible to reach out. Connecting with people in your professional circle – and with those outside of it – can help you navigate the homeworking world and position you for new opportunities beyond.
Follow these tips to manage existing relationships and create new ones during this turbulent time.
- Continue to reach out to your network – via LinkedIn, email, online chats, or even an old-fashioned phone call. People working from home tend to have a more fluid schedule, making them more receptive to an unexpected conversation, text or email exchange. Empathy is also at an all-time high. Make the most of this good will and spread it in a professional context by staying connected with existing contacts, asking for introductions, and offering your own expertise and help.
- Create a list of contacts and map out those you would like to hear from in a who-knows-who matrix. This will help you navigate and connect your professional and personal contacts. Think outside the box and beyond your LinkedIn account as family, friends, and even neighbours, might lead you to your next opportunity. As we’re learning today, the world is both large and small, depending on how we look at it.
- Take stock of your professional presence and LinkedIn account, refreshing your profile, updating your resume, and ensuring that your photo and experience are current. Take the time to ensure that your digital footprint reflects your evolving skill set and most recent experiences, whether you are in job search mode today or might be in the coming months.
- Review your progress, schedule check-ins throughout the week, and stick to a plan. Reach out to five contacts a week or one a day, depending on the frequency that works best for you. The key is to keep a regular schedule, prime a pipeline, stay motivated, and be connected. If you plan it, you are more likely to execute it.
- Build on your progress. Take stock of how many people you connected with last week and try to add one more into the mix this week. Look for patterns or gaps, whether its by industry, geography, or affiliation.
- Do your research. Preparation still matters, even as the medium of your connection changes. Learn about your contact and come with specific questions. Be curious, consistent, concise, and caring.
- Reward your efforts and recognize the progress you are making. Staying connected can be hard at the best of times, so don’t underestimate your achievement each time you make a new connection, have an engaging conversation, or brighten someone’s day in the slightest of ways. Small steps add up and overtime you’ll create a thriving network that will help identify your next opportunity. Now, more than ever, give yourself permission to celebrate small wins.
Use this turbulent time as an opportunity to connect through our collective homeworking experiences. Together, we will navigate this new ‘normal’ as best we can. Networking may be different now, but it is still necessary. Start making that list and focus on progress and connection, not perfection.