I’ve been advising women in leadership for over fifteen years, coaching executives on how to network successfully without sounding desperate or feel pushy. What I didn’t expect is that I’d one day be giving hot networking tips during a global pandemic that physically doesn’t allow us to network. But here we are.
If you want to make a career move but feel that the current state of the world has made it impossible, I want to assure you that is not the case. While there’s been a devastating amount of job loss, top companies are still hiring.
But most of the best job openings are not posted (70% of job openings are never posted online). That means making your power move will likely come down to knowing someone—or knowing someone who knows someone. And that means introductions, referrals and, yes, networking.
So, let’s talk about how to get unstuck, learn what to say and how to say it, and start networking again—even while working remotely.
REMOTE NETWORKING TIPS THAT WON’T MAKE YOU FEEL DESPERATE AND PUSHY
You can take advantage of the fact that people are in front of their laptops all day right now. They’re not traveling, and they’re more likely to answer your email or call. I can’t tell you how many of my past colleagues have reached out to reconnect during this time. That’s a great place to start.
- Reconnect with old colleagues — transparently. Send a simple friendly email checking in, being transparent about the fact that you’re using this time to do some networking. DO NOT bait and switch old friends with a “Hey! Just thinking of you!” email. It’s dishonest and off-putting when you inevitably drop the real reason you reached out. Instead, what tends to work well is a warm, no-pressure message like: “Hey blank, I hope all is as well as can be right now! I know it’s been some time since we last spoke, but I’d love to reconnect. I’m going through my network and setting up times to catch up and see if there are ways we can support each other professionally. Let me know if you’re available for a call! Best, your name. The conversation will either go nowhere, in which case, don’t push it; or it will organically rekindle a professional relationship.
- How to “actually” make LinkedIn work for you. Networking in person often just comes down to starting a conversation — saying hello to someone you don’t know. You can do the same on platforms like LinkedIn, which are designed for this very purpose. Send a simple hello, something like: “Hello, I see we are both in the blank industry. I came across your profile and would love to connect and learn more about your position at blank. Would you be available for a call in the weeks to come? Thank you and have a great day.”
- Limit group Zoom networking sessions. There I said it. I’m seeing a lot of networking groups—especially women’s networking groups—that are all about getting on a long Zoom call with a group of people in the same position as you. The likelihood that this will lead to something fruitful is slim, from my experience. You can’t organically break off into one-on-one conversations on a Zoom call like you would at an in-person networking event.
- Call in an expert. Not to sound pushy or braggy, but this is probably the most effective networking tip if you’re serious about making a high-level career move. I know people have a lot going on, managing their existing jobs and households, and I know you’re having 10+ virtual meetings a day. Hiring a job search coach can be the best gift to yourself during these crazy times but before you do, make sure you know what area you’re stuck on. You can’t network well if your positioning is wrong. Networking succeeds when you have clarity on your target role, target audience, and what the market needs.
Speaking of which…
WHITE-GLOVE ACCELERATED NETWORKING FOR EXECUTIVE WOMEN
In January 2021, my team is rolling out something I’ve envisioned for a long time: a new White-Glove Networking Service glove service for busy executive women. To level up, you’ll need to network with people in power — those who can create roles for you. If you’re serious about shattering that glass ceiling (Kamala, anyone?) and confidentially exploring what’s next, without applying, this is for you.
Set yourself up for success in 2021. Get out there, take your power back and start networking to create lasting change. Your contacts are your currency. By networking, you increase your value, validating your skillset in every conversation you have. And if you’d like to call in a pro who gets you, at your level, you can book a call here to learn more.