While some businesses and organizations are slowly re-opening, many people have transitioned to at-home-work, where they will stay for the foreseeable future.
There are certainly drawbacks to remote work. For one, your proximity to the fridge has decreased, which has likely led to a proportionate increase in your waistline. But in all seriousness, for all the benefits of remote work, it has really hindered the ability of students, recent graduates, and professionals to network and build business relationships. After all, social distancing is a strong impediment to networking.
But it does not have to be. While in-person networking may be on a hold, there are still many ways for professionals to engage in virtual networking and make connections online.
Fortunately, opposition often breeds innovation, and there are many sites and organizations, like Eventbrite and Web Summit, that offer virtual networking events. While some may prefer meeting people in person, this digital solution still allows you to see and engage with other professionals.
If you are feeling really ambitious, you can even try and host a virtual networking event yourself. What will really help you at these events, just as in-person, is having the courage to initiate contacts and start a conversation yourself. You cannot just expect people to engage with you. As Benjamin Mee said: “Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are great tools for anyone looking to build their business network. For example, LinkedIn allows you to broaden your network by reaching others through mutual connections and seeing if someone you know works for a company you admire.
Twitter can also be a great way to build your personal brand by frequently tweeting about your industry, or connecting with others through hashtags. Finally, while Facebook may not appear like a tool for professional networking, it certainly can be. Facebook is still the largest social media site in the world. It has 2.5 billion monthly users - that is almost a third of the world population. Facebook is a great way to meet people and going live is an effective way to promote yourself.
A few suggestions when it comes to social media networking. One, you may want to create and use a professional social account rather than using your personal accounts. Otherwise, you may want to purge your personal account of any red flags which could paint you in a negative light. Also, content is king on social sites, so make sure you are building your brand by posting and contributing content that others will engage with.
A quick Google search will present you with virtual job fairs that you can filter by location, industry, and experience. This is particularly useful for students and recent graduates who traditionally rely on career fairs to assist them in getting that first job out of school.
If you plan on attending a virtual job fair, make sure to refresh your resume and practice how to sell yourself in a video job interview. If employers find a candidate they like at the fair, there is often an opportunity to pair off and speak directly through chat or video.
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