You are probably already aware that networking is an important component of professional development. But you may also be wondering whether and how you can network during this time of virtual work and social life.

Even as we all do our part to help flatten the curve, our current remote landscape also provides a unique opportunity to virtually connect with the others and build relationships. As you approach networking, be sure to keep track of your conversations.

Here are some tips to help you effectively navigate networking during this time:

Determine your networking goals

Reflect on your purpose for networking.

Maybe you’d like to connect with someone who has experience with a skill that you’d like to develop. Or, perhaps you’d like to learn more about a specific field, type of role, or organization. You might also be hoping to build relationships with a long-term goal of discovering upcoming or unadvertised opportunities.

Identifying your networking goals can help you develop a strategy to be successful.

Think about your networking preferences

Though in-person networking may not be an option right now, there are many different ways to connect virtually. Reflect on your comfort with larger networking events as compared with one on one virtual  informational interviews or coffee chats. You might enjoy a combination, or you might experiment to clarify your preferences.

Review Your Online Presence

Your online presence is more important than ever. Make sure your LinkedIn and LionSHARE profiles are updated and complete. Remember, many recruiters use both platforms to source candidates, and professionals across a variety of industries use them to make connections.

While you’re at it, think about your personal brand. Google yourself and see what comes up—it’s important to have a clear picture of how others may perceive you through your online presence.

You can also continue to build your online presence during this time by joining and participating in LinkedIn groups related to your career interests. This is a great way to become visible to others in the field.

Start with who you know

Now is a great time to reflect on who is in your current network. Think about your peers, professors, mentors, recent alumni, and family members. Is there there someone you’ve been meaning to reach out to?

Develop a list and begin by checking in. People will appreciate that you’re thinking of them. Plus, these conversations can serve as a platform for sharing goals, helping one another develop skills, sharing advice, finding opportunities, or making introductions.

Expand your network

Look back at your networking goals and think about who might be helpful to speak with in order to achieve them. Do some research through the Columbia Alumni Association and use the LinkedIn Alumni tool to help you identify people to reach out to. You can also find students who have interned at organizations that interest you by looking at the employer page on LionSHARE, and connect via peer messaging on the platform.

Connect with a message that is authentic, clear, and concise. Remember to connect on a human level, acknowledging current circumstances before asking to set up a virtual call. During your interaction, ask how you can help them too!

Connect with CCE

You do not need to navigate this alone! Make a virtual or phone appointment with a career counselor who can help you develop a personalized networking strategy.

Updated on December 4, 2020.