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How to network successfully in an online world?

20 April, 2021

For a lot of us right now all over the world we have lost the opportunity to network face to face. To go to large scale events. Meet-ups. Conferences etc. Our traditional ways of connecting with others are largely gone. But, just because our ability to connect easily face to face has changed, doesn’t mean our ability to network and maintain a real depth of connection needs to.

I get questions from coaching clients regularly about how to network in an online world without coming across as non-genuine, or desperate. This can feel particularly difficult when you are proactively looking for a job, and therefore you know that you have a reason for wanting to connect with others.

But, here is the long and the short of it in the world according to Claire (Hello there!). Networking shouldn’t be viewed as something that you only do when you need something from someone – it shouldn’t even be viewed as something that you do when you need something at all.

Networking needs to be an activity that you view as part and parcel of your career learning and growth, now and forever more. It isn’t something that you only do each time you are looking for work and need help getting a job.

Networking should be viewed as an opportunity to do one or more of the following 3 things;

Consume
Connect
Contribute

Consume – whereby you are genuinely engaging in other peoples knowledge, thoughts, opinions and ideas, and you add even more value to them online (not detract as I see so many people do these days online!). There are numerous platforms for you to do this on, but LinkedIn is a no brainer here from a professional starting point. Other opportunities would include online networking groups for professionals in your area of expertise, online group chat forums etc.

Connect - meaning you create a sincere and authentic connection with someone who you believe you have both something to learn from them, and some value to provide to them in return. When you do connect with people don’t just go and click “connect” on LinkedIn with every person who has a title or a position that you aspire to. Actually write them a personalised note of why you want to connect – this comes across as far more sincere and will have a much greater chance of working in your favour. Once your request has been accepted, actually connect with this person and try to engage in a conversation – again, not about your needs, but about their world.

Contribute – I imagine for most people reading this who previously went to face to face networking events or functions, that you didn’t just rock up, stand in the corner and contribute nothing (even though I imagine there were times when you wanted to!) – then don’t do it online. Share your own thought leadership, your ideas, ask questions to get to know others, share articles that you’ve read that add value, and contribute to the conversation.

For those reading this who are consciously looking for work right now, please ensure that you are also proactively doing the following things online consistently and not just when you need something;

  1. Follow and engage with all of the Companies that you have an interest working with. Comment on their posts (not by saying you want a job and that they should hire you!), but by actually contributing constructively to the content they are sharing.
  2. Continue to consciously nurture and cultivate existing relationships that you already have. Who can you help genuinely, and who may be able to help you? If you have not been consciously nurturing your network over the years, then make contact with old connections or professional networks NOW. Build the relationship back up and invest time into it. There is nothing more insincere than not hearing from someone for years and then the first time you do is because they want a favour from you. You are far more likely to receive help from someone when they don’t just feel used for the moment.
  3. Take advantage of the multitude of free events that are online at the moment, and be an active participant in the conversations within these events. With the majority of the world working remotely and online, many Organisations have had to adapt and are offering events online to continue to engage with their customers, potential employees etc. Join as many of these as you can in the areas relevant to your expertise, and then ensure you are an active participant within them. Don’t just rock up, not contribute on the chat, have your camera turned off and not engage with anyone – you may as well just not go.
  4. Remember the cardinal rule for sincere networking – Give before you get, and take a genuine interest in others.

Showing you how you can build a conscious network map and nurture it for the long term is part of our private 6 month ‘Sell yourself with Confidence’ transformational program.  If you know you need more help selling yourself online, in person, or even to yourself (Hello self-doubt and Imposter Syndrome!), click here for more information on this absolute career game-changer!  You’ll get a free downloadable PDF that will tell you everything you need to know about the program to work out if it is right for you (Psssttttt…. It totally is though!)

Much Love,
Keen advocate for helping you get out of your own way!

Author
Claire Seeber is a self-proclaimed travel addict, mini-sausage dog mumma, avid blogger, a lover of a good glass of pinot noir and believes a solid belly laugh should be part of your every day.

She is also a professional coach, speaker and People and Culture consultant. Claire started her business in 2017 whilst working full time as General Manager of HR for a large retail business. What she loves the most about the work she does is being able to work with passionate, motivated and courageous people who genuinely want to reach their full potential and are ready to put the hard yards in to get there.

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