Wednesday, September 15, 2021 Gerald Moore/Workforce Development Team

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Networking involves interacting with others, exchanging information, and developing professional or social contacts.  If done correctly, successful networking can open doors to mentorship, professional development, and career growth.  In terms of finding a job or building a career, networking can assist a job seeker with accessing the hidden job market.

To find about the hidden job market read the following article Hidden Job Market: Definition and How to Access It.

The end goal for the job seeker is to make a connection with the hiring manager through networking before the job is posted or to have connected with the perspective employer in such a way that first consideration is given to the job seeker before the job is made public.

However, networking to establish a relationship in a COVID-19 world looks a bit different.

We have been encouraged to wear masks, to socially distance at least six feet apart, and not to attend functions that could potentially become super spreader events. While it makes sense to adhere to suggestions for staying healthy during the pandemic, it does not mean you should stop trying to connect with employers if you are looking for a job or pursuing employment opportunities in your career field of choice. 

So, how do you network in a global pandemic?  Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Build Up Your Digital Presence

Use LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media tools to reach out and make connections.  In-person meetings may not be available, but you can connect through social media outlets. Update your profile with fresh content.  Use social media platforms to find, connect with, and start having conversations with the kinds of people you would like to get to know professionally.

Twitter allows users to set up alerts so that you get notified whenever someone you are interested in posts an update.  Say that it is an executive you follow and he or she posts something about a new industry trend. You can be quick with a reply. Think about what you want to say and what your reply brings to the conversation. Realize the value in providing your unique perspective and replying can demonstrate that you have taken time to think about what is being said as well as what you can learn from the conversation.

Make sure you are offering your best presentation of yourself online.  Clean up and lock down your social media accounts as well.  Check out these articles for tips on tidying up your social media presence:

8 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Social Media (Because Hiring Managers Really Do Look at It)

7 Steps to Take when Scrubbing Your Social Media Presence, According to Branding & PR Experts

Use a professional headshot photo for your company’s email account.  Do you have a professional signature?  If you do not already have one, create a professional signature.  Check out these informative tips for creating one by reading How to Write A Great Email Signature [+ Professional Examples] on the HubSpot blog.

Also, if someone searched for you via Google or LinkedIn, would they find your professional achievements online?

  1. Attend a Virtual Networking Event or Virtual Meet-Up

As we continue to navigate a world within the confines of a global pandemic, we may find that many organizations have ceased in-person events and activities.They are using web conferencing tools like ZOOM, Air Meet, Google Meet, and Face Time to meet, offer job fairs, provide job training, and host workforce development-themed conferences.An added benefit of virtual networking is less social pressure. Digital venues tend to be less intimidating than in-person ones.

Having the shared experience of attending the same virtual event is a great way to start off new relationships.

  1. Use the Chat Feature during Virtual Events

Remember those impromptu connections that occurred in the hallway at the conference or when you connected to someone you sat next to at an in-person event?The chat box feature at virtual events has become the mechanism where these exchanges are made.If the virtual host encourages participants to introduce themselves on the chat, use this to do just that and share what you do.

  • Include your name, one sentence about what you do, and your LinkedIn URL.  Add that you are looking to make new connections.
  • Keep things short as chat boxes can and will fill up with comments. Participants are likely to scroll through these comments quickly.
  • Have your LinkedIn account open during the virtual event, so you can respond to and initiate new connection requests in the moment.

Networking is a continuous activity. Initiating authentic connections may usher in several new connections and opportunities.  Networking is not about being overbearing, self-centered, or aggressively promoting yourself.  It is about sharing information, building relationships, and making meaningful connections that have the potential to progress your career to the levels you have always wanted to go.

With a little bit of practice and self-patience, you will be ready to take on the next steps in your future career.  If you would like more information about how to apply for jobs online, assistance in finding resources, tips on how to get the job-hunting process started or more, please reach out to us at CCPL by email, chat, or text. Remember, you are not alone.