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Late-night events. Business cards. Happy hours. Trade shows.
These were all hallmarks of the traditional definition of the term “networking.” Well, pre-2020 anyway.
As we look back on the last 18+ months, it’s clear what we once considered networking has vastly changed. As with everything in the pandemic era, those who pivoted not only their definition of business networking and relationship building, but their best practices in doing so, are those who are coming out as more fulfilled — and more connected — in the months since.
The Shift Online
While networking has traditionally been in favor of more extroverted personalities (hello, happy hours!), remote working has favored a more digital form of meet-and-greet. No, I am not just talking Zoom happy hours, I am talking about how one platform, in particular, has exploded in the Covid Era.
Enter LinkedIn. Yes, that LinkedIn.
No, it’s not just a job site, as most people still believe. In fact, content creation on LinkedIn increased 60% in 2020, proving that LinkedIn isn’t your dad’s social media platform anymore. It has become one of the most thought-provoking and idea-sharing platforms there is and is even touted as the most-trusted social media platform there is as well.
When the whole world seemingly went to work at home overnight in March of 2020, social connections had to move with them. In this case, business relationships beyond just your company’s Slack became vital to not only stay connected — but to share thoughts, learn, and grow in an external ecosystem built for doing just that.
For many, LinkedIn has continued to provide a place for networking at scale in the Covid era. Specifically, Empowered Introverts Founder, Daisy Simonis, has embraced a voice on LinkedIn and developed a following for introverts looking to supercharge their people skills to advance their careers.
For Daisy, sharing ideas and content on LinkedIn all has to do with her idea of helping introverts network even via social media.
“I think the fundamental factor (to networking) is the purpose behind it,” Daisy says. “So, are you wanting to change careers? Are you wanting to get promoted? Are you wanting to build your personal brand? Why are you doing it? Introverts especially really need that bigger purpose.”
Why Should You Network?
Even before Covid hit, and most of us had to do our networking online, there has always been a strong case for networking in general.
In fact, this Forbes article highlights these 10 reasons why networking is great for your career, including how it improves your creative intellect and helps you grow in self-confidence while building long-lasting relationships.
As the pandemic job losses highlight, you never quite know when you’ll need to tap into not only who you know to help you accelerate your career or find a new role — but who knows you.
And when it comes to building a presence online and networking at scale on a platform such as LinkedIn, there’s never been an easier way for people to get to know you than by creating content and putting out your unique thoughts online in an easy and engagement-worthy way.
Online Networking as a Skill
Prior to March 2020, extroverts no doubt had a leg up when it came to in-person networking. However, in the months since, as Daisy Simonis has shown, introverts have entered the chat as well.
No matter if creating a presence and engaging online is second-nature for you, or if you have to work to connect a little harder, Daisy has some pointers for us all when it comes to networking online:
“Figure out what you’re doing it for. And then focus on quality over quantity,” Daisy says. “So instead of wanting to meet 10 or 20 people, focus on five. And really, really invest your time and patience and energy into getting to know these people before reaching out to have a one-on-one.”
Other tips to network well online?
- Follow the content of people you enjoy.
- Engage consistently with their content.
- Start to produce your own thoughtful, helpful content.
- Add value for a good while before asking for anything from anyone.
- Engage on other social channels where someone has a lesser following to stand out.
- Once you have built up a relationship, send them a message perhaps with some more value.
- Create an ask that still has clarity and value for the other person within it.
“The integrated way of networking is a bit slower,” Daisy says. “There’s no need to rush.”
Networking as a skill has clearly changed — along with everything else — in the pandemic era. Even though the big events are slowly making a comeback, that doesn’t mean you have to wait until a large convention to expand your network, create a valuable following, and connect with others in your space.
With platforms such as LinkedIn at your fingertips, you can begin to make a name for yourself and your business no matter where you are today.