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Effective Networking Tips for the New Normal

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Professional networking is mostly studied in an offline context, but since the pandemic ushered a global shift online, we’re paying more attention to how virtual networking can be done. According to an article on networking from Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, many people still associate online networking with negative emotions; the anxiety in meeting unknown people over a screen was found to be greater when compared to in-person interactions.

We must acknowledge the need to improve existing networking practices. In 2020, a job crisis in the United States led to companies closing their doors — a contraction that amounted to 20.2 million jobs. Employment in certain industries like catering and tourism were hit extremely hard. While networking isn’t a band-aid solution for this problem, it can help professionals find new opportunities in the job market. Whether we’re doing it offline, online, or hybrid, here are some tips to prepare yourself for the new normal in networking:

Review your LinkedIn

LinkedIn is considered the starting point for modern networking. Your profile should be up-to-date and complete with relevant information on your professional background. Aside from filling out the required fields, you can also join alumni groups of prior schools and companies to expand your network. It’s also helpful to update professional contacts on LinkedIn and keep your network “warm” for potential jobs, recommendations, and referrals. Identify 30 to 50 important connections with whom you’ve lost touch, then choose “VIP connections” from the top 10% to 15% of individuals you’d immediately like to reach out to. Start to reconnect with these people, and try to maintain them as relationships you can eventually leverage. Remember, people enjoy helping others — but you should also be helpful and friendly as well. Do make sure this is highlighted in your LinkedIn presence.

Digitize your business card

Even as in-person networking events are making a comeback, traditional handshakes and paper calling cards don’t work as well as they used to, especially with most people prioritising safety and comfort over old niceties. The digital business cards on Doorway represent a high-tech, touchless spin on the classic business card exchange. Instead of giving a paper card, Doorway lets people you meet scan a QR code that automatically saves your contact information on their phone, even without an app or an internet connection. Not only do you minimise waste created with paper business cards, but you also never run out of cards to give away. One pre-pandemic habit should still be retained, though: always ask for a business card in return, and read it before putting it in your wallet. This shows you’re serious about keeping contact with the people you meet.

Approach people on social media

While there is still apprehension about reaching out to people online, it’s slowly becoming more acceptable. This is also made much easier through social media, which lets you easily connect with important contacts. You become more familiar with their interests and opinions, particularly those related to your field. Case in point, Twitter is a great space to connect with thought leaders and industry experts. You can like, retweet, comment, or engage them through their Tweets in some way. After a few responses, you can reach out directly to ask questions or build rapport — ideally by offering value in return. When you finally get the opportunity to meet them in person, it will be much easier as you can reference previous communications.

Host your own virtual networking events

Sometimes, you need to take initiative when it comes to networking. Invite different people you know to a virtual networking event, and ask them to bring other friends along in the interest of building mutually beneficial relationships. Engage virtual guests by asking questions, sharing information or insights, and keeping conversations relevant. You can try engagement touchpoints on Hopin, an online conferencing platform that allows you to run multiple speakers or panels at once if you want additional options for hosting than Zoom.

Networking may be more work in 2022 and beyond, but you can easily tap into everyone’s need for additional social engagement after the pandemic. To keep up with the Vital News happening around the world, as well as business, tech, and lifestyle tips, do check out our other articles.

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