Though it can seem intimidating at first, networking is a great way to connect with a professional community, discover new opportunities and learn from mentors. So, what’s the best way to get started?
It is as simple as going online and signing up for as many industry relevant online events as you can. These events are often free and can be found on platforms such as LinkedIn, Eventbrite and Facebook.
Some events are more relevant than others, so it’s important to identify which ones will be the most beneficial to you. Before registering, ensure the event is specific to your field, has the right people attending, and suits your personal brand and career goals.
Leonie Lam is a Careers Education Consultant at Western Sydney University who works with students, coaching and empowering them to write resumes and cover letters, and interview for their dream role.
“The benefits of these events are endless as they are often free and require no travel, allowing you to enter the industry from home.”
Leonie believes that traditional methods of networking, in combination with online networking, can set job seekers up for success. Leonie shared her top 5 tips to succeed in online networking.
1. Take notes
“If you're listening to someone speak, the first tip is to take notes,” Leonie says. You can then use the information they shared when reaching out to connect with them either on LinkedIn or over email.
Referencing what the person spoke about and sharing what you took away from the event shows that you paid attention. “Who doesn't feel good when you say something at an event and say, ‘That person really listened to me, and they quoted me.’ That's just amazing.” Leonie says.
2. Take the time to know who you are “in the room” with
We are no longer bound to the business card and can connect with any number of people at a time.
Leonie shares her secrets for identifying future connections during online events. “The key advantage with virtual events is that you get to see the names of all the people in the meeting. You are able to note down the individuals you would like to connect with post-event on LinkedIn and the event itself will work as a talking point as you share that middle ground.”
3. Perfect your elevator pitch
Virtual events often accommodate breakout room activities where the group is divided into smaller sections for a brief amount of time. These groups are the perfect opportunity for students to promote themselves and showcase the value they can bring to a business.
“Just have a pitch ready. A 30-second spiel to tell them exactly who you are. You may have to practice that pitch over and over until you are confident and prepared.”
4. Look the part
It might seem like common sense but even though you are in the comfort of your home, it is important to bring the best version of yourself to online events. Creating a branded zoom background can add an element of professionalism, elevate your presentation style and grab the attention of future connections.
“Get dressed up, have a great zoom background and really turn up to that meeting,” says Leonie.
5. Go beyond: Personalise your reach outs
Don't let all your hard work go to waste. Make sure to follow up with your new connections on LinkedIn and create some long-term professional relationships.
Leonie has some great advice on personalising your reach outs and maintaining a relationship that serves both you and your industry mentors. “Do your research on their past roles and experiences and express interest in them,” Leonie says.
Once you’ve connected, you can create a relationship by considering requesting an informal catch-up online. This technique is called Informational Interviewing. Just 15 minutes with your new industry connection could be a great opportunity to learn more about their career history. Leonie explains that people will generally say yes if you've already built that positive online connection in the beginning.
By asking your connection questions to get to know their career, how they got started and for advice on your own career goals, you are setting the foundations for a healthy and rewarding online network.
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