Practicing social distancing doesn’t mean you have to put your professional development on hold. Remember that while you’re at home, so are the professionals you’d benefit from connecting with. Now is the perfect time to reach out to them, flex your networking muscles, and exchange valuable insights.
Just like in-person networking, online networking can seem daunting if you’ve never done it before. However, as with many things, the more you practice, the easier it gets, and the greater the benefits are. So make the most of this confinement period by getting in touch with others virtually and having meaningful career conversations. Here are five tips to keep in mind for online networking success.
1. Consider videoconferencing technology your friend
Are you insecure about using Zoom? Do you shudder at the thought of a technical glitch happening in the middle of an important Skype call? These concerns are normal as we move to new, unfamiliar technologies, but there are plenty of resources to help you along the way. The benefits of videoconferencing tools far outweigh their potential drawbacks. After all, it is technology like Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams that can connect you with someone on the other side of the world—or, during our current situation, the other side of the street.
2. Follow regular networking etiquette
The same basic “rules” for in-person networking also apply to online networking. For example, be prepared, be an active listener, dress appropriately (at least from the waist up—they won’t be able to tell if you’re wearing sweatpants!), and always send a thank you note.
3. Be willing to adapt
When you’re meeting with someone you don’t know, it’s important to be willing to adapt to their needs. This might mean using the videoconferencing tool of their choice or setting up your appointment at a time that’s convenient for them. Remember that this person is being generous with their time and attention.
4. Browse LinkedIn
The networking website par excellence, LinkedIn is a great tool for researching career options and finding professionals working in your industry. Now is a great opportunity to create—or polish—your profile and grow your network. Share a great article you’ve read recently, join a group of like-minded people, or reach out to professionals in your industry who could provide valuable career insight (don’t forget to write a quick message to introduce yourself and let them know why you’d like to connect).
5. Use DesautelsConnect
If you’re a student or alumni of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, you should definitely take advantage of DesautelsConnect, the Faculty’s exclusive networking and mentoring platform. Powered by Ten Thousand Coffees, DesautelsConnect introduces you to other Desautels students and alumni based on your specific career interests and goals. You can schedule and set up a coffee chat in-person or online or browse for professionals within your industry. If you haven’t used the platform yet, now is the perfect time to go on your first virtual coffee chat.
How does DesautelsConnect work?
- You’ll receive a monthly introduction to a student or fellow alumni based on your career interests and goals.
- Suggest a time to chat, in-person at a coffee shop or online from the comfort of your home, to share your advice and experience.
- Once you join, all introductions are sent directly to your inbox so you don’t need to use another tool!
How do I join?
- Go to: mcgill.ca/desautelsconnect
- You will be placed into an approval queue to be reviewed by the hub administrators.
- Respond to an Invitation when you are matched with another DesautelsConnect member.
- Tell us about your successful coffee chats. You could be featured in our news feeds & our social media channels.