Quick Hacks for Effective Virtual Networking during the pandemic

Networking hasn’t stopped during the pandemic, but are you keeping up?

The global pandemic has left us with no option but virtual networking. Although networking gets a bad rep, I see virtual networking as simply building relationships online.

If you are currently avoiding virtual networking, waiting for when we go back to after-work drinks, big conferences and social events. I don’t think you should hold your breath (especially in the UK).

Have you seen people with new jobs, side hustles, book deals, partnerships etc.? Do not be deceived, networking is still very much alive and kicking.

I also believe virtual networking is here to stay.

There are many advantages. Virtual Networking is not only more democratised (you don’t need to be in certain rooms to access certain opportunities) but it is also more environmentally friendly and generally more cost-effective — apparently .

However, just like real-life networking, virtual networking needs a strategy. It should be intentional, methodical and engaging.

Let’s get into 5 quick hacks for effective virtual networking during the pandemic.

You have all the tools you need for virtual networking, are you utilising them?

1. Update your digital presence

One form of digital networking that is very passive is updating your digital presence. Ideally you would be sharing about a recent promotion or job role change, however simple updates such as making sure your profile picture is professional/recent, updating your header image to show your personality are just as powerful.

We are in a period where people will be checking for your digital presence even more than usual — before virtual meetings or through virtual events.

Social media doesn’t favour the shy, so don’t be shy about including your extracurriculars and sharing when you have completed relevant online courses.

When thinking about updating your digital presence, remember the mere-exposure effect. This is a psychological phenomenon relating to how people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them. So the more you update your profile, the more people feel like they know you and your work and, if they align with your content, the more pleasing and likeable they find you as a person. Overall you are perceived to be more authentic and approachable! #Winning

One form of digital networking that is very passive is updating your digital presence.

The more detail you have and more often you update digital presence, the more opportunities you will have to connect with people with like-minded interests.

Top tips for updating your digital presence:

  • Create a personal website — I found this to be extremely valuable as a way to document my career journey, share my successes and initiatives I am working on. Check out .
  • Post about your achievements to keep your network up-to-date. I have noticed LinkedIn has been more active than ever so why not share? If you fear about coming across as bragging or self-promoting, do it anyway! Someone will be inspired by you and your work but don’t forget to share about how you actually achieved the achievement, this is how the real value is added and how we can encourage healthy social media engagement!
  • Post about all aspects of your interests too — there are enough vanilla lawyer/investment banker/consultant profiles out there so what makes you interesting and different?

2. Intentionally build new connections

With no in-person networking events, when was the last time you e-met someone new?

My top hack here is to utilise Connectors. Connectors are people in your network who seem to know everyone. I already know you have someone in mind. They are the sociable people who are usually naturally-skilled at building networks and connecting people.

Ask the connectors you know for someone in X industry and I am sure they will be able to help you or at least connect you to someone else who can. More on connectors in Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point.

Top Tips for intentionally build new connections:

  • Use in case you don’t know about Clubhouse it is the new invite-only 24/7 audio app. I absolutely love it and in the last couple of months, I have had some amazing conversations on the app and built some really great connections. If you need an invite DM me 😊
  • If you are more keen on 1:1 conversations, try a fun site focused on connecting people with similar interests. I have a target to meet 3 new people a week and lunchclub has helped with this.
  • If you have e-met a few friends of friends, can I push you to try and build a global network during the pandemic? International networking is a great idea at the moment, given most people are inquisitive about the pandemic experience around the world and some usually inaccessible people may have more time to explore new ideas and meet new people.
  • Good questions to ask when you e-meet people are: What are you passionate about? What has the global pandemic taught you/what new skills have you picked up? How can I help you?, What are you working on at the moment? What is your biggest challenge at the moment? Who else can you connect me with given my goals? Overall, practice active listening when meeting new people and be open to their story and ideas, and don’t rush the small talk.

3. Engage and contribute

If you are less keen on content creation, social media is equally valuable if you engage with others content. Not everyone needs to be a creator but you do not need to be a pure consumer either.

Top tips to engage and contribute:

  • On LinkedIn engaging and contributing looks like commenting on others posts with additional value, sharing others posts and tagging people in relevant content. This helps you to be positioned as a connector (that we spoke about earlier) and someone who adds value.
  • Sign up to Newsletters run by thought leaders and share them with others — some of my favourites include [Business and Tech news], [Fintech and startups] and [Angel investing] but there are many many more.
  • Find it hard to motivate yourself to produce content? Collaborating with others to produce content can help you with accountability.
  • Tap into virtual communities like the and contribute in them.

4. Cultivate existing relationships

Finally don’t neglect your existing relationships. With no water cooler chats or casual lunchtime conversations, it might have been about a year since you have spoken to some colleagues you don’t work with on a day-to-day basis. Your existing relationships need love too!

Your existing relationships need love too!

Top tips to cultivate existing relationships:

  • Turn up to meetings 1 mins early — you will be the first one in the virtual room and get to greet those that join and initiate the small chat. No extra meetings needed!
  • Schedule 15 mins check-ins — Everyone’s time is precious so instead of slotting in hour-long catch-ups how about 15 mins? Come prepared with questions and think beyond the transactional i.e. what can you give me.
  • People always ask me, Mary how can I cultivate my existing relationships without coming across as pestering? Sharing articles/reports/events with your network is how. Even better add your perspective too and be specific about what you learnt from what you are sharing. 100% game-changer.
  • So…What’s been going on for you? This is the wrong question to ask. It is a time-waster, usually people share those updates on their socials or you might have seen such updates elsewhere. Instead say:

I saw you recently got promoted, congrats! How did that happen?

Can you tell me more about how you sourced your new trustee role?

I see you have experience working in South Africa, how did you find that opportunity?

This is where the real value lies in conversations. In the HOW not the WHAT.

Are you aware of where the value resides in your conversations? 👀

5. Attend (a selection of) virtual events

There are a lot of virtual events happening during the pandemic and many are FREE which is absolutely amazing. I don’t know who needs to hear this but not all of them are for you.

Be selective about the events you attend. Before you sign up, ask yourself, what exactly do I want to gain from attending the event or who do I want to meet? If it is a longer event, be specific about which sessions you want to attend.

Top tips for attending (a selection of) virtual events:

  • Document your learnings by taking notes in your preferred format — Notion, iPhone Notes and a quick google doc win for me
  • For more interactive events, create an easily accessible document with your elevator pitch/bio so that you are ready to share your story with those you meet
  • Understand where your energy comes from, do you prefer to network in large or small groups? Choose your events accordingly. Where you can turn your camera on, be engaged and avoid multi-tasking.

Overall, be intentional with your virtual networking and don’t let it slide. Technically networking has never been more accessible whether you are an introvert, a parent or a busy working professional.

I hope these hacks and tips are useful for you. To recap the 5 Quick Hacks for Effective Virtual Networking during the pandemic:

1. Update your digital presence

2. Intentionally build new connections

3. Engage and contribute

4. Cultivate existing relationships

5. Attend (a selection of) virtual events

Blog covering all things personal development and careers from a 20-something millennial making her way in the Management Consulting industry

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