How To Network Virtually In 5 Easy Steps

February 12, 2021 – Kalya Nuñez

As professionals, knowing how to network virtually is an indispensable skill. Even if it can feel intimidating at first, you have to learn how to network properly if you want to keep your career active during COVID-19. Thankfully, all it takes is 5 easy steps!

What Is Networking?

Networking involves creating connections with other professionals, whether it is through an in-person conversation or a message on LinkedIn. There are many reasons why you would want to do this, such as expanding your professional social circle, meeting recruiters from a company you would like to work with, or even finding potential investors for your business idea.
It is likely you know people who have gotten their jobs or who have found business partners through this practice. In fact, 85% of jobs are filled via networking! This is also one of the top characteristics every entrepreneur needs if they want to be successful, so it is a good idea to get started as soon as possible. While the best networking usually happens in person, there are still ways to make an impact and create meaningful connections with others online.

How To Network Virtually

Step 1: Know Your Purpose

Before reaching out to anyone, you have to know what is motivating you to  network. Is it to find out about job opportunities? Do you need an investor? Are you looking for mentors that can advise you in your career journey?
If you are not sure why you are reaching out to someone, they will have a hard time helping you. Your reasons may vary from person to person, so it is a good idea to always have a clear understanding of what you expect from each person before speaking with them.

Step 2: Choose Your Platform

Depending on your purpose, the platform you use can change. While LinkedIn is the usual go-to platform for all your networking needs, it is a good idea to think about who your audience is and where they’re most likely to hang out online when choosing your medium so you can increase the chances of a positive outcome.
If you are trying to be recruited, look up virtual career fairs the company is participating in and attend informational sessions they’re hosting. If you identified a specific person and already know someone in common, ask for an introduction over the phone or through a video call. If you are looking for acquaintances in your industry, consider joining virtual forums or groups made specifically for that segment, which you can find through Meetup or even Facebook groups.
While your LinkedIn should always be used as an additional tool to send follow-up messages and connect with new people, every once in a while you should try to reach out through alternate methods like the ones mentioned above that allow you to stand out from the crowd, especially if they allow you to have real-time conversations with others. 

Step 3: Perfect Your Presence

There is one more step you have to complete before finally reaching out to others: look good! Consider the way you want others to perceive you and take the necessary steps to achieve that. This is especially important if the other person will be seeing you through video. Make sure you look polished before you hop in any Zoom calls so you can leave the best possible impression!
Pro Tip: Good lighting can go a long way, so try to find a spot in your home that has plenty of natural light (or invest in a ring light!).
The way you communicate is also a key factor, so triple-check your spelling when sending important messages and keep your tone respectful. Additionally, when reaching out through LinkedIn or other relevant social media, you want to make sure your profile information is updated and your picture is clear.

Step 4: Craft Your Message

While you never know where the conversation will take you, it is important to always have opening and closing statements prepared beforehand. Your opening statement should always be a variation of an elevator pitch, in which you state who you are, what you do, and why you are reaching out to them.
Nobody likes guessing why you are speaking to them, or having to process huge amounts of information at once, so make sure you clearly express your intentions for speaking with that particular person and keep your introduction concise.
Before saying your goodbyes, prepare your CTA (Call-to-Action). A CTA is what you want the person to do next after finishing your conversation, whether it’s give you their contact information, schedule a coffee chat, or add you on LinkedIn. Remind them why you reached out in the first place.
Pro Tip: Avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket! Always have additional contacts ready in case the person you originally reached out to is not available to help. If you do not know anybody else, ask if they can share some of their contacts with you.

Step 5: Keep In Touch

The conversation should never end there. Always send follow-up messages and thank you notes to everyone you talk to and make sure they add you on LinkedIn (or other relevant social platforms). It is also good practice to send messages to check up on them every few months or even send your well-wishes during the Holidays to keep your relationship up to date in case you need them in the future.
Even if nothing came up after your initial conversation, these messages can be timely reminders of you when they are looking for new employees, connecting investors with startups in their network, and other opportunities that can benefit both of you.

Network Your Heart Out!

Now that you know how to network virtually, you’re ready to unleash your networking powers upon the world! Mastering this skill is key when navigating your professional career, and it can provide you with countless opportunities when you know how to do it right. Remember to always keep conversations respectful and professional, and that the Perspectivas Globales team is always ready to help if you get stuck!

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