FLEX Professional Development Tip: Networking Online

Events, meetings, and even family gatherings have been moved online. Something that usually involves a handshake and face-to-face communication, networking, is also something that now has to take place virtually. While it can be challenging to make the same connections online instead of in-person, here are some tips to help you as you attempt online networking:

Who to target
Target specific people to avoid wasted time. Examples include:

  • People who work at your dream company or in the industry you’re looking to get into 
  • People whose careers you admire, and their gatekeepers 
  • Fellow alumni whose careers you admire 
  • Friends of friends

Track your network
Track your connections using a spreadsheet to stay organized and improve your ability to stay in touch with contacts. 

How you reach out matters

  • Choose email or LinkedIn messages over texting and social media.
  • Include in the email: Who are you? Why are you reaching out to them, specifically? What do you want?
  • Best practices for a subject line: Keep it short, use their first name, and get to the point.
  • Best practices for email: Keep it concise. Use hyperlinks to share more. Send in the AM. Create personal context.
  • Always aim for a live conversation to help people get to know you.  

Connect your story to them.

  • Explain what you admire about their career and why you respect their advice and opinion.
  • Ask about their career trajectory. 
  • Ask for their advice and any suggestions they might have for you.  
  • Can they review your resume or facilitate a connection? Be specific.  

Follow up

  • Immediately send a thank you 
  • Send a $5 gift card if you can 
  • Books/other gifts make a huge impression if someone went above and beyond 
  • Keep them posted about your career progress 
  • Return the favor when you can 

What online networking tips do you have? Comment below!

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) September 2020 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

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