As a recruiter I’ve been to hundreds of networking events—some with better appetizers than others—and while I miss the selection of onsite events, I realize that they’re not everyone’s ideal way of spending time. A warm, curated, and cared for network is a big help in navigating the highs and lows of your career. Whether you find yourself in the midst of a job search or simply want a safety net for the future, keeping up with your connections is important. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to keep building your network connections without leaving your home office. Here are some tips to using easy to navigate, digital solutions to help warm up a process that might have otherwise left you cold.
Weaving Connections with LinkedIn
Through the years, I’ve seen how LinkedIn has become much more social than its origins of being a business networking platform. While this platform is crowded, noisy, and starting to more closely resemble Facebook every day, its ease of staying connected can’t be denied…all you have to do to stay connected is simply send a message. Pop out of the noise and send hellos to folks in your network—it’s a great way to keep track of their careers and stay top of mind. Here are quick tips on keeping up with your connections:
- Schedule time to browse your feed. As powerful as LinkedIn can be as a professional networking tool, its mass of updates can be extremely noisy and a huge time suck. Set a timer for small sessions in between meetings or during your afternoon coffee to review your connections’ activities and send messages. A few times each week or month is totally sufficient.
- Short, thoughtful messages. A quick note saying, “thinking of you/happy summer” or, “great article you published…” really goes a long way to staying connected and spreading positivity in the unrelenting and stressful world that we live in. Even if you’re happy in your job—or especially if you’re in a search—dropping a note to simply say ‘hello’ with no strings attached can really make someone’s day better.
- Send times to connect live. Create a free Calendly offering times that work with your schedule for a phone call or Zoom. When you send your message, send over your link for a quick, easy way for your contact to arrange time to reconnect.
Slack: Access to Hiring Managers
Slack offers vibrant, close-knit groups sharing insight and camaraderie. To the uninitiated, Slack can seem intimidating, but I’ve found that Slack is an amazing way to connect directly with people all across the world looking for connection and opportunity. My world dramatically expanded through the use of this tool, landing conversations with engineers in Argentina to fielding opportunities with hiring managers in Chicago. People go to Slack to vent, find community, post jobs, and build networks. Recruiters are latching on to the ability to join an intimate, on-target audience that Slack offers but beyond that, you’ll find direct access to influencers and hiring managers in specific industries of your interest. Here are some ways to further use the platform:
- Find the right community— Standuply built a great tool to search for active channels.
- Once you’ve spent a few weeks or months in the channel, craft specific introductory messages to leaders within the community to start making connections and building out your network. What’s so great about Slack direct messages is that unlike LinkedIn, you can send free direct messages to people that you’re not a first connection with on LinkedIn. These DMs can be simple introductions explaining your gratitude for the community and how it’s been a benefit to you, what you admire about her professional trajectory, and an offer to connect to learn more about their road to success. Who wouldn’t respond to that?
Virtual Chats with LunchClub
LunchClub matches its users with professionals looking to connect via virtual “lunch” meetings. You set the times you’re available, choose industry options of interest, share your availability with the tool and LunchClub makes the matches. I’ll admit, at first the idea of having a virtual lunch with a stranger seemed off-putting, but there are real solid advantages to this networking tool:
- Practicing Your Pitch: Practicing how you sell your consultancy services or how you talk about what you do every day is a great way to build confidence and feel comfortable selling who you are and what you do. LunchClub was a great way for me to practice explaining my new venture when I started consulting—I would schedule lunches not just to meet people but to rehearse and practice talking about the work that I did until the words started to feel comfortable. LunchClub is also a great rehearsal venue to help prepare for upcoming interviews if you’re on a job search.
- Broadening Horizons: LunchClub is a bit more extroverted than Slack or LinkedIn but it’s a wonderful way to meet professional with global perspectives. Making real life connections across the world is a tremendous way to find solutions to problems and to see your work in a fresh, new light. Some connections that I’ve made on Lunch Club have turned into regular monthly or quarterly meetings.
While navigating remote networking eliminates the need to balance your appetizer napkin, cocktail, and handshakes, it certainly hasn’t taken away your ability to build warm and solid relationships. Sending a quick note to say hello to your connections, catching up on their job happenings, and building community are great ways to stay out there. And while you’re at it, get in touch with me to be part of our growing talent and client community here at Elevation Talent Group. We’d love to connect!