While in-person events and large gatherings have been canceled, networking certainly has not!
CCE as well as a number of other organizations and employers have been working to build virtual networking opportunities for students. Some events will host a panel of speakers with a Q&A, while others might present an opportunity to directly connect. Whatever the format, it’s important to be prepared.
These are a few tips in mind while preparing for a virtual networking event:
Since events will now take place using a digital platform being familiar with the technology is crucial
Register for an event and identify the platform that will be used. If needed, download the platform, choose a professional username, and spend time getting comfortable with it. Make sure your video/audio are working too, if applicable.
Join the conversation on time and from distraction-free space. If you don’t have a quiet option, just be sure to mute your microphone whenever you are not speaking.
If you will be on camera, make sure your background is neat and professional. You can also use a professional -looking virtual background if that’s more comfortable for you. Also pay attention to your appearance and attire, in keeping with the professional attire expectations of the industry.
Just as you would for an in-person networking event, set aside time to prepare. Reflect on your interest in the event and what you hope to gain from the experience.
Research the organization, industry and the people including panelists, attendees, and hosts, and develop questions that showcase the research you’ve done.
Develop and practice your introduction. You might have a version of your introduction typed in advance, making minor changes to tailor it as you connect with different people via chat.
Keep your notes nearby. The virtual aspect of these events allows you to have your notes on hand. Also keep some space to take notes during the event.
Even though you won’t be in person, your participation matters. You’ll want to make sure you bring a positive attitude to the event, and if you’re on camera, be sure to smile!
While getting to know the event platform, take note of features that may be used. For example, some platforms have chat capabilities, Q&A forums, or an option to “raise your hand.”
Be respectful. Sometimes there are lags in the internet connection. Make sure you’re giving others the chance to finish speaking before you jump in.
Be visible and stay active. If the event encourages conversation in the chat box, engage! Submit your questions to the speakers, and make connections with other attendees.
Following Up and Tracking:
You may not be able to collect a business card, but following up and tracking your new connections remains as important as ever.
Write down the names and contact information provided by speakers, panelists, or attendees. Whether you engaged directly during the event or you’d like to connect, follow up. If you were unable to catch their email, LinkedIn is a great way to connect.
- Stay organized as you build your network. Think about developing a spreadsheet or system that works for you.