Why lockdown shouldn’t limit your career progression
There might not be as much recruitment happening at the moment, and fewer projects lined up for the medium term, but that doesn’t mean you should stop progressing in your […]
There might not be as much recruitment happening at the moment, and fewer projects lined up for the medium term, but that doesn’t mean you should stop progressing in your career or lining yourself up for the next step when things get back to (kind of) normal. “But how?” we hear you ask. It’s time to take another look at networking, and how the game has adapted online.
Many of us shudder at the thought of traditional networking – being in a room full of people we don’t know, yet knowing we should somehow ‘work’ it to our advantage. So, if such scenarios are out of the question for a while, how can we continue to meet and make introductions to potentially useful people while at home?
Start with your existing network
Networking advice often focuses on meeting new people and developing professional relationships with them. But while making connections is important, so is maintaining the relationships you already have.
If all of your interactions with your connections can be tied back to particular projects, take a little time to check in on a personal or nostalgic level. Everyone is under a lot of stress right now, and a friendly message can help brighten someone’s workday.
Personal messages are just a start. You have the technology, so invite someone – or a group of people – to a virtual coffee break or happy hour. The more ways you can interact with your network, the stronger your bonds will become.
There’s no social distancing on social media
You have a LinkedIn account, but how often do you use it? Many people spend hours perfecting their profile while we’re job hunting, only to let it languish once in a new position. But right now, LinkedIn is more active than ever, so why not join the conversation?
To start with, make sure you’re connected to all your colleagues. Join groups that are relevant to your interests, and don’t be shy about speaking up. You never know when you might meet someone new or reconnect with an old contact – and that won’t happen if you’re only lurking.
While many finance and accounting professionals prefer LinkedIn, you can connect with individuals and relevant groups on virtually every social media platform. Just stay professional, approachable, and consider your strategy as you build a social media presence.
Some people are busier than others at the current time, but if you do find yourself with a couple of spare hours on your hands here and there, why not organise a knowledge exchange with some of your connections?
Simply identify some individuals whose experience you’d like to learn more about, and see if there’s anything you can offer them in return. A simple presentation about what you’ve learnt in a specific area might be very valuable to some of your connections – allowing you to develop your skills and knowledge, as well as your network at the same time.
A blended approach
To network most effectively, you need to use each method carefully as part of a wider strategy. By strengthening your relationships with people you already know, you increase the likelihood of them wanting to introduce you to new people or new opportunities.
In addition, the more you interact with people on social media, the more visible you are. And the more visible you are, the more likely you are to attract attention from potential new contacts. A friend of a friend or even a perfect stranger might want to respond to your comments, but that requires you to make comments in the first place.
Just as your real-world contacts can help you network on social media, your social media contacts can help you network at virtual events. By joining relevant groups on social media, you can discuss upcoming conferences with your friends and potentially meet fellow attendees. If there isn’t a group for your interest area already, start one yourself — perhaps a knowledge exchange group where you each take turns to educate each other.
We’re all limiting our human interactions these days, but that doesn’t have to mean limiting your human connections. With these techniques you can continue to develop your professional skills and contacts without ever leaving home.