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How to Network Virtually
Networking is an essential business skill. Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying it’s important. Amid the current Coronavirus pandemic, you’ve likely traded in your high heels for slippers and may have even breathed a sigh of relief thinking you’re off the hook from networking. But, not so fast.
What if we told you that you could network from home. Yes, even in your sweatpants, if you want to. Forging valuable connections and having honest conversations aren’t canceled just because you’re working remotely. Here are five ways you can connect with the outside world, even when you’re stuck at home.
Reach out to Existing Connections
If networking gives you the cold sweats, this is the most comfortable place to start. Whether you’ve worked hard to grow your network or you can count your connections on one hand, everyone has someone they can reach out to. Think of a person you haven’t caught up within a while, like an old coworker or mentor. Shoot them an email, send them a text, or even pick up the phone and give them a call. Video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Facetime, make virtual networking a breeze. Use this time at home to nurture the relationships you have so they’ll be even stronger the next time you can meet up in person.
Grab a Virtual Coffee
Is there someone you’ve been meaning to reach out to? Maybe you met at a previous event and never followed up, or you’re a part of the same organization and haven’t had a chance to chat yet. Reach out and offer to grab a coffee, at home that is. Schedule a time for a virtual coffee date to finally get that touch base on the calendar.
Connect on Social Media
We all have those people that we admire from afar on social media. Whether they’re the top in their field, they share great advice, or they’re a fun account to follow, reach out! If the thought of contacting your social media idol sounds intimidating, think again. While the internet can be full of trolls, most people on social media are nicer than you think. Comment on a post, slide into their DMs, reply to a tweet, or if you can find an email address, send them a quick note. Tell them how much you admire their work and their social presence. Even if the exchange is brief, it’ll feel good to put yourself out there, and they’re sure to appreciate your kind words. And who knows, maybe you’ll spark up a conversation that can lead to a great friendship.
Send a Cold Email
Brainstorm thought leaders in your organization and potential mentors that you haven’t had a chance to connect with face to face. Send them an email from your work address, asking if they want to connect. More often than not, people are open and willing to help others, especially those they work with. Set up a time for a phone or video call to chat. If you work at the same company, chances are you’ll have more to talk about than you think. Want to think bigger? Send an email to someone in your community or industry that inspires you. Tell them how much you admire their work and ask if they’d be willing to virtually meet for a 15-minute call.
Even before the time of COVID-19, the internet was full of online communities. From Facebook groups to webinars to organization forums, find a community related to your industry or line of work, and get connecting! These conversations should come easily because you already have a common interest. Post in a group or send an email to a speaker or panelist of a recent webinar you attended. Having a jumping-off point makes networking seem a lot less scary.
Still not sure where to start? We have an idea! Become a part of the Females in Food Community and join us for our next “Table Talk” on April 28th, 2020. Our bi-monthly lunch and learns provide you with the opportunity to network with members and learn about their career journeys in the food and beverage industry.
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