There's a lot more to networking than just making accounts and going to events. You'll get the best results by coming in with an appropriate goal, attitude, and strategy. In a Buffer survey, 72 percent of responders worked for a company that allowed or planned to allow at least some amount of remote work. Online or offline, many of the same principles will always apply when meeting new people and getting a job. To prepare yourself, see if you can implement these five tips on how to network.
Cast a wide net
Young professionals get experience networking earlier than ever. Many of us learn how to network in college, and those connections can form a solid foundation to build your circle. Afterward, though, it's time to get creative. The more diverse the range of people you connect with, the better. There are often unexpected ways that people from one discipline or industry can help another, and being able to assist different people will demonstrate how well you use your skills.
Know your elevator pitch
In a busy networking event full of people to talk to, you don't want to take too long to introduce yourself. If you aren't sure what to say to introduce who you are and what you do, potential connections won't understand how you could help them.
When you build your virtual network, you'll slowly develop a simplified, concise image of yourself and what you have to offer. You'll have to be efficient with your words when networking online, but the same principles often work in conversation. For a few tips on describing yourself quickly in 30 seconds or less:
- Write down the three basics: who you are, what you do, and how you do it.
- Write the unique results of your work or traits of your personality that set you apart.
- Organize both of the above into one paragraph.
- Record yourself delivering the paragraph at a natural talking speed.
- Edit the pitch, catch any flubs, and try again until you have an effective pitch memorized.
Follow up after good conversations
If you meet anyone who seems promising for a future deal, project, or opportunity, save their contact info and a few fresh notes about the conversation. If you have the funny thing you talked about with your potential new boss written down on their business card, mentioning it again during your next conversation will help them remember you and why they liked you.
There are different windows to follow up, and job hunting sites like CareerBuilder can help you create a profile so employers can find you. When you get contacted, respond fairly soon and feel free to follow up after a few days if you don't get a reply. People can be busy, so they may have simply forgotten to get back to you.
Recalibrate every now and then
There's no shortage of massive networks full of communities that may be relevant to your work. With so many options, young professionals can lose sight of what's actually working. Every so often, take inventory of which networking tasks you are spending time on, how much time you give to each task in the week, and how much progress or payoff you're getting for them.
Maybe answering comments on a social site, for example, could get trimmed down to half as much time, in exchange for more time spent with video conference networking. Maybe instead of stressing yourself out with following new accounts, you devote more time to talking with your current people. Don't forget how flexible the remote work life can be, because how you network is always in your control.
Be a giver of value
This old marketing line has stuck around for a reason. Online, in a world of quick, cynical impressions, those who appear to genuinely offer something of value will stand out the most. Whether starting new connections or following up with a project idea, start conversations about the other person's needs and goals.
When in doubt, it doesn't hurt to just ask, "How can I help with what you're doing?" You'll often get something back in the spirit of reciprocity. Later, as you build familiarity and experience in a company, you'll benefit from being a connector, someone who can help others network by making referrals and introductions.
Growing an online professional network doesn't have to be scary or inconvenient. If you give it time, stay real, and keep practicing, you can find a few new connections that end up transforming your career in the coming months. Try these networking tips and stay at the front of the crowd.
More career tips about resumes:
See the awesome ways to turn your mom skills into a new job.
Start the job hunt right with our guide on building the perfect resume, with examples.
Looking to enter customer service? Learn what skills to put on a customer service job resume.
See our guide on how much work history to include on a resume.