How we connect with each other has been evolving for centuries—from face-to-face interactions, to letter writing, from the phone, to email, and now through social media. Building, growing, and maintaining relationships digitally has been a trend gaining traction over the last 20 years, but Covid-19 has put the shift into overdrive.
We may be physically distant, but that does not mean that our networks and our connections cannot be fulfilling and helpful for our professional and personal lives. The world will not be the same moving forward as a result of Covid-19, but like all major events, in the face of a challenge, opportunities arise.
With remote working being the new normal, children and pets are regular guests in video meetings. Our intimate home environments have become our workplaces, and a barrier between work and home life has shifted. We don’t have a choice in what we share all the time, but on our social media channels, we do—or rather we should. In order to strengthen professional relationships, we must remember that keeping a professional tone is key. A few tips to keep in mind when sharing content:
- Always target your audiences. Connecting via social media about politics, religion, etc. can be fulfilling and engaging—however these topics need dedicated channels and a filtered audience.
- Don’t be afraid to share wins. The most popular professional posts tend to showcase your accomplishments like a new job, new business, new awards, new growth, or even success on a big project.
- Sharing helpful tips and motivational content is a great way to build up your engagement and personal brand. Sharing videos highlighting your team or yourself helping your community and helping those in need through these trying times will go a long way to building your social credibility and brand.
It’s always best to keep your personal and professional life segmented until you need it to cross. Millions of people have been attempting to keep their personal and professional lives segregated online by using different social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, respectively.
The problem is the social awkwardness of getting a request from a colleague on Facebook, and vice versa on LinkedIn, has led to people allowing the lines to cross because they don’t want to deny the connection. But sites like Webtalk make it easier to keep personal and professional networks siloed, until you want them to cross. By easily choosing between social media channels and the type of relationships you want to share with, you can better utilize the platforms for growing your personal network and brand.
Networking is More Than Shaking Hands
The secret to networking has always been referrals, but not just referrals from anyone—referrals from successful people in the areas where you want to grow. Networking online is a great way to meet those successful people who can give you top referrals. Start by leveraging social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Webtalk and then have a virtual meeting to begin building relationships. Connecting with a ton of people but not taking the time to build relationships defeats the purpose of connecting. Find out how you can bring value to the person you want to connect with, and then offer that value with no strings attached. In the digital era, providing proof of value is the factor that drives success.
Perhaps one of the most detrimental effects of the pandemic, has been the rising number of those who are unemployed. My heart goes out to every person struggling to find a job in such an unknown economy. But what research and experience has taught me, time and time again, is that we should never underestimate our professional networks and the help they can provide.
For instance, even if you are already employed, the rise in freelance and gig work presents a great opportunity to take on part-time contract work to build up your ratings and reviews. If you ever find yourself in between jobs, having a great freelance reputation will help you generate income that can keep your mind at ease between careers instead of wondering how you’re going to pay the bills. Once you are available for freelance work, post your availability to your social networks and ask for referrals. You may be surprised how quickly the network and referrals that you’ve already built up, can help.
The numbers are clear: online connections are growing like never before. Statistics show that since March, social media use is now 25% of all mobile usage. The key during this time and beyond, is to learn how to strengthen your professional network and use your social media presence to serve as a vital tool for your future.