Online networking has never been more important. Although many areas are opening up and people are returning to the office, we’re heading into uncharted territory — a new normal, to be sure. It’s unlikely you’ll be attending a conference or event with large crowds in the near future.

Which makes it difficult to partake in an extremely important component of your career and job search – networking! 

From happy hours to formal networking events, getting out there and meeting people can be a great way to expand and nurture your network, which can be extremely helpful in your career. 

So, with large events off in the distance, how can you leverage the benefits of networking in a post-COVID landscape? Online, of course! And when we think of online networking, we primarily think of social networks nowadays. 

Wait a second, social networks, social networking!? It’s funny, but when we think of social networks, how often do we really think about social networking in that regard? And yet, there is so much opportunity! 

Here are just a few ways you can build and nurture a powerful network through online networking:

Start using video.

One reason networking is so powerful for so many people is that you can’t help but feel like you “know” someone after meeting face to face. We’re wired as humans to crave real-world interaction, and networking helps to deliver on that need. Even a short, in-person conversation with someone can be enough to earn a referral or recommendation down the line. 

While you might not be able to meet face to face for a while, you can help people feel connected to you and provide that in-person feeling, through video. After adding connections on LinkedIn over the years, how can you make real connections with those individuals? Especially the ones you haven’t met in person? Video is the way to go! 

Think about the big push toward Zoom calls lately. We miss the personal connection that comes with working in an office. So we’re using Zoom to see our colleagues’ faces and mimic the feeling of standing at the watercooler or sitting around the table for a meeting. 

When it comes to networking, sharing video offers a personal glimpse, and helps people feel like they’re in a conversation with you. Video also makes people literally stop as they’re scrolling mindlessly through their feeds. 

Try to think of topics that are relevant to decision-makers and stakeholders in your field. What trends are top of mind right now? What are some of the impacts of COVID on your niche? Share your thoughts, and invite others to join the discussion. Then, once you’ve posted your video, stay online to answer questions, and respond to comments to keep the conversation going. It’s like hosting your own mini-networking event!

Don’t just “connect.”

To that end, it’s time to think constructively about the network of individuals you’ve accumulated on LinkedIn — and those that you continue to add. “Adding” someone doesn’t automatically mean they know and understand you, or that they’re willing to recommend, refer or even get to know you better. 

But, it’s an invitation — an open door for those things to happen. So, when you connect with someone, send a personalized invitation. If someone adds you to their network, respond, and thank the person for the invitation. 

Then, work on the daily interactions that truly put the “networking” in social networking. Scroll through your feed at least once a day (if you’re actively looking for work, you’ll want to do this at least two to three times per day). Add thoughtful comments to posts within your network. Join online conversations and showcase your expertise. Get to know the people in your network. 

That is the very definition of online networking – no formal event needed!

Join online networking events.

While social networking is unorganized — you define your networking efforts and who you’re networking with — some organizations across the country are taking advantage of technology to host online networking events. 

Sites like Eventbrite and Meetup are hosting virtual networking events based on specialties, locations and more. You can also join LinkedIn Live sessions, join LinkedIn groups and even Facebook groups for networking events and opportunities to connect. Just search for keywords, themes and topics that interest you, and put your best foot forward!

Add us to your network!

Networking can be one component of a successful job search. But when you work with a recruiter here at Matlen Silver, you gain a career ally who’s in your corner, working to find the perfect job opportunity. When you work with us, you become a part of our family. Check out our current job openings, or reach out to us to learn more.