Seemingly overnight, the world has turned upside down. More than 90% of Americans are now under stay at home orders. With all but essential businesses closed, most people are now telecommuting and working from home if they are lucky enough to remain employed. There’s nothing new about remote work. 5% of all workers have already telecommuted full-time. On top of that, 70% of people worked remotely once per week before the pandemic. The difference is, they could always go out if they wanted to. As you’ve shifted your work online, so too can you take networking into the digital era. Here’s everything you need to know about digital networking and how to make the most out of the extra time you have right now.
Why Networking Is More Important Than Ever
The best way to describe not only the business world but the world in general right now is unstable. Networking strategies are a deliberate approach to relationship building.
- Prioritize the most important relationships
- Focus on quality rather than quantity of relationships
- Take part in networking activities
- Connect relationship-building with your goals
With everything going on right now, it’s easy to feel exhausted and isolated. Thus, networking connections are not only professional opportunities but a chance to connect with people in new ways. Here are some easy, fun, and effective tactics you should mix into your daily routine:
Create Your Baseline Approach
It’s essential to create your minimal targets for the week. Do you want to have three different video chatting sessions per week? Or do you want to create a virtual happy hour with close friends? Set a realistic target that you can reach. It could be something every day or once per week. But always strive for a little more the following week.
Convert Physical Meetups to Virtual Hangouts
It is so easy to look at your calendar right now and say, “well, that’s canceled.” Don’t miss vital opportunities. Instead, find creative workarounds. If you planned to see a movie with someone, then arrange a time to do an online party or change game night to virtual game night. The possibilities are endless.
Use Technology Like a Boss
We have so much technology at our fingertips. Now’s the time to make the most of it. There are so many different ways to spice up your networking.
- Use a VPN to connect to servers in different countries to unlock exciting new content from different regions.
- Stream French movies with a friend in France on Netflix. Or dive into the latest cinema from South Korea. It’s the perfect chance to find your new favorite show or movie.
- Establish a pandemic messaging buddy you can check in with.
- Discover new social media apps you’ve never tried before. Nobody is too old for Snapchat or TikTok. And it’s a perfect way to unlock new audiences for your business.
- Use scheduling apps like Asana or Trello to plan networking events and hangouts.
Don’t Forget Networking Isn’t All Business
Networking is an approach to life — that includes family and friends. Building these connections foster in you the energy and positivity to go out and crush it elsewhere. Take time to text the most important people in your life to check in on them. A simple “How you holding up” or “I am thinking of you” works wonders.
Take The Lead On Organizing
Even if you’re setting up a virtual happy hour with your best friends from college, you need to take the lead proactively. Take the leading in managing your virtual appointment schedule. Don’t assume that everybody is ready to sign in at any given time. Check back in throughout the day and make sure everybody is on the same page. It is even more crucial when it comes to professional opportunities. Once the call begins, steer the conversation to keep it from hitting dead ends. If people haven’t met before, make sure to introduce them, and create plenty of chances for everyone to speak.
Set Your Networking Goals
It’s up to you. Do you want to be ambitious and create five new professional network? Or do you want to touch base with someone you haven’t connected with in a while? Now that you have some extra time, it’s the right moment to work on a skill you want to develop. Do you have a friend who creates masterful PowerPoints? Then schedule a FaceTime with him to pick his brain. As a bonus, your friends or colleagues will likely appreciate a little distraction from the news too!
The world is going to be a different place when this all ends. But the one thing that always remains is the need to stay connected. Now’s the right time to embrace these digital networking strategies. Think about the relationships in your life and turn this crisis into real opportunities.