As we rung in the New Year, we let out a collective sigh of relief that 2020 has finally come to an end. Throughout 2020, we were challenged with finding ways to maintain the same level of productivity, drive, and professional growth without having any of the comforts of networking nights, industry conferences, and an office space to collaborate. Despite these gaps in professional development, professionals of all kinds, especially communicators, have found ways to connect and support one another virtually. Looking into 2021, the virtual component still dominates, but we better understand that even virtually our network and personal connections are able to help support and guide us as we continue growing in our career. Building your professional career is a daunting journey when you are in the middle of a transition or fresh in your industry and haven’t had time to build up a strong network. To help, we have compiled a list of three ways to connect with and build your network that has worked well for our team.
Always Ask for A Face-to-Face Meeting or Phone Call
Zoom fatigue is real so asking to add yet another video call to the schedule can feel daunting, but having the opportunity to collaborate face-to-face can provide a more meaningful, and productive, interaction. It also shows that you want to take time to connect with the person and focus on building your connection. Offering a quick virtual coffee chat is a great way to connect.
Make the Most out of Professional Organizations
Professional organizations are a great way to connect with individuals from all backgrounds who share a commonality: your career! In our current virtual world, so many people are silently going through the same struggle of not knowing the best way to virtually network or feeling isolated from colleagues and professionals they would have connected with before. Taking time to join professional organizations is a great way to expand your network while also focusing on professional development. As we enter 2021, organizations have learned how to adapt and adjust programming to offer great virtual opportunities. Now is a rare time where everyone is experiencing similar feelings of isolation and making the most of these opportunities will help guide you as you continue throughout the rest of your career.
Reach out to Colleagues You Don’t Work With Daily
In the office it can be easy to meet new colleagues and form relationships with people you don’t work with on a daily basis. In the virtual office, it’s hard to connect with colleagues you aren’t working on projects with or speaking to regularly. It can be difficult to reach out when it feels like everyone is living in their own world but initiating this connection will be welcomed and appreciated. Requesting 15 minutes to learn about someone’s role and get to know your colleagues better will also help strengthen relationships when you do return to the office.
Networking can be daunting even when the world feels normal, but if you lead with authenticity and kindness it can be a fun way to learn more about people in your organization and in your industry. Building lasting connections, regardless if they are virtual, comes from focusing on the other person and what you can learn from one another, not what they can do for you. Virtual networking is a new challenge to overcome for professionals of all tenure but provides the opportunity to connect in a time where connectivity can feel scarce.