Networking is an essential part of finding a job — especially during a pandemic
Most people think of networking as just having coffee with someone or going to an industry event.
However, things like that are not so easy in the middle of this pandemic.
But really, it is about making connections. And that is something you can do right from your living room settee!
We know that coronavirus has dramatically impacted the job search process for students, forcing them to get creative when it comes to building contacts and breaking into their field.
An astounding 85% of jobs are filled by networking of some sort, according to a survey (pre-pandemic) of 3,000 people by LinkedIn.
Hiring experts talk about the “hidden job market” where many jobs are filled internally or by referrals before they are even posted.
Job seekers need to realize networking is not trying to meet as many people as possible.
It is about meeting a few well-connected people, who can vouch for your ability and who are willing to refer you to a few other well-connected people.
Start with people you know
One job search strategist suggests starting with friends, family, and former colleagues.
It is easier to start with people you know — it will help build your confidence and then your network just keeps growing.
And, when reaching out, do not be afraid to ask how someone is doing in the middle of all this,
Everyone is going through this extremely demanding situation, so just asking how someone is doing, will probably be greatly appreciated.
Never approach networking with a “me first” attitude — remember that a successful network is like friendships, mutually beneficial.
Some students are working on existing connections they have made through past internships.
Others are turning to career centres for assistance in their innovative pursuit of nontraditional work-related projects and experiences.
Of course, this year has been harder, and a lot of internships are cancelled. Therefore, that makes networking even more important – setting the groundwork for future opportunities.
Do not be afraid to reach out to someone you do not know
You can network with professionals via email and even check his LinkedIn account several times a week.
And, you do not have to limit it to people you know or once worked with.
If you see someone you want to meet, maybe on LinkedIn, introduce yourself.
It is important to follow up and not just let the connection fizzle out.
You never know when someone will have a job opportunity – or know someone else who does.
It is also important to note that making a connection does not have to center around a specific job or opportunity, but rather, common interests.
Building professional relationships can make the difference between staying professionally stagnant and ascending the career ladder.
Expanding your network allows you to find principled and dependable mentors, peers to bounce ideas off and colleagues to write letters of recommendation for your future promotion.
Your network can help you to find opportunities, including virtual talks, calls for papers and nominations for awards — all key elements of career advancement.
As we adapt to the overwhelming disruption of COVID-19, we have all been forced to use online platforms to stay in touch and to forge new relationships.
The key to accomplishing both is to modify our social behaviour in a new world of networking through video chats, instead of in conference rooms, to make our connections both meaningful and long-lasting.
Our advice is to remain authentic and sincere by being truthful, showing empathy and simply being yourself.
Do this whether you are approaching a member of your network or are trying to connect with a new contact.
It is crucial to convey that you are a team player, and a trusted, supportive, and caring colleague.
Even in this stressful time of social distancing and missing communal meals, celebrations, and coffee-room banter, we can still develop solid professional relationships and expand our network.