In a world where in-person networking is no longer the norm, virtual networking takes center stage. But how do you build a virtual network and leverage it effectively?
Networking creates long-term relationships with mutual benefits and is central to a successful career. For many successful professionals, when asked what is at the core of their success, many cite the strong networking connections they have created over time.
You don’t have to wait for a networking event to make meaningful business connections.
Traditional job searching has seen a bit of a change recently due to COVID-19; how you search for jobs, how you interview, and now how you network all look a little different but not necessarily more difficult! With many professionals working from home and a cut back in business travel, many are spending more time on their laptops and networking sites such as LinkedIn, giving you the perfect opportunity to try your hand at virtual networking.
Who Should Be in Your Virtual Network?
The most important question when considering networking is who you network with and their relevance to your career; this ensures you aren’t putting time and effort to nurture something that won’t add value in the future. So how do you figure out who you should build these relationships with?
Identifying the Right People
Think of a person in your network who could help with your job search. Who can make an introduction or connect you with someone at the company you’d like to work at? Who can help you brainstorm or provide you with perspective from their career journey?
Highlighting What You Have to Offer
Forging a strong relationship can’t be a one-way street; it needs to be mutually beneficial. Now that you have identified someone, next write down a list of things you can do for them. Even if it’s a minor gesture, it can still jump-start your networking — as long as the act is genuinely meaningful to them.
The key to building resilient networks is to identify individuals where you can both contribute to their success and also stand to benefit from their knowledge; It’s both a give and take.
Virtual Networking Made Easy
How To Approach a Potential Networking Connection?
You’ve followed the guidance above and have identified the ideal connections to build your professional, virtual network, but what’s next? How do you reach out to them?
Email is one of the most effective ways to connect with people, but if you don’t have access to someone’s email, you can always send an InMail on LinkedIn. To help guide you, here are a few tips for crafting the perfect networking email:
1. Be human.
Whatever you do, don’t start your message with “To Whom It May Concern” – by choosing this as your opener, you destroy all aspects of personalization before you even start. Virtual networking is meant to create new relationships and connections, so you need to personalize the content to who you are speaking to and keep it friendly.
2. Flattery goes a long way
It’s a proven sales tool that flattery leads to success in the long term, and while you’re not trying to sell anything here, it’s worth taking a page out of the sales guide book. Don’t make the first email you send be all about you, instead show that you have a genuine interest in the recipient and the expertise they possess. Again, this ties in the personalization concept we mentioned above, which is at the core of a successful networking email.
3. Keep it short & sweet
Even in a pandemic where you’re confined to the limits of your home and seemingly have ‘more time,’ I can guarantee you, no one has time for reading an email the length of a harry potter novel. Be concise.
When sending a networking email, you must keep it short and sweet. It should get your point across and leave the recipient able to respond within a few minutes without much reading or work on their part.
Networking emails are an excellent strategy for any job search. By following these tips, you’ll spark more relationships and even make connections that could lead to future job opportunities.
Sample Emails for Virtual Networking
Even with all this knowledge, actually writing a powerful and effective networking email can be daunting and feel awkward. To help, here are two sample emails that you could tailor to fit your needs – you would just need to swap out the bracketed areas with what fits your needs.
Reaching Out to a Stranger
I hope this message finds you well.
My name is [Hannah], and I work as a [Recruitment Resourcer] at [Nova Recruitment]. I became familiar with your work when I [saw your recent article on LinkedIn outlining how the job market has changed during the COVID-19 period] and wanted to reach out to tell you how much I admire your [career development experience and insight into the Cayman employment market].
If you’re open to it, I’d love to [grab a virtual coffee] to speak more about [what you’re seeing as trends in the market currently].
I am looking forward to connecting!
Reaching Out to a Friend of a Friend
My name is [Hannah], and I work alongside [Louise Reed] at [Nova Recruitment], who passed along your contact information to me.
[Louise] mentioned that we share a passion [for helping young professionals identify and realize their career potential] and said you’d be a great person to get to know! So, I thought I’d reach out, introduce myself, and let you know that I’d love to find out more about you and your experience with [recruitment in the professional accounting space here in Cayman].
I am looking forward to connecting!
All the best,