Building Your Network Virtually

Kasia Lewandowski

Building Your Network Virtually

The era of working remotely and virtual networking has only begun. Young professionals who are able to adapt and embrace a philosophy of relationship building will be uniquely positioned to build value for themselves and others.

Here is a refresher on building lasting relationship and strengthening your online reputation.

What Networking Is NOT

Quick reminder - true social capital is about real relationships not the number of contacts and followers. It's not enough to be virtually or even offline connected. Use technology to engage, enhance and convene. Networks only work when they are built on trust, give-and-take, and long-term attitudes. 

How to Start Networking In A Virtual World?

Start with the network you already have and don’t wait for others to reach out. Keep in mind you already belong to many networks and each network connects you to potentially another network. So reach out. Also don’t assume certain people won’t or can’t help. You may be surprised by who they know. 

How Can I Improve My Virtual Network?

Begin with A Goal

Are you looking to build, maintain, expand connections, find opportunities or interested in speaker engagements? Always give your networking intention and make sure to clearly articulate what you are looking for. Without clear goals, you won't be able to measure your progress.

Be Self-Aware

Too often in networking situations we forget to talk about the real value we offer. Instead we talk about the value we think we need to deliver. Great networking starts with self-awareness. Play to your strengths and minimize weaknesses - while keeping the following in mind:

  • Seek out the types of events and social situations you excel at (whether its speed networking or a mixer, casual vs formal, within smaller or larger groups)
  • Keep in mind who you are trying to connect.
  • How do you best connect (through writing, asking questions, listening or teaching)?
  • Are you introverted or extroverted? If you are introverted, keep a few good conversation starters in your back pocket. If extroverted consider sharing and documenting your experiences and accomplishments online. They’ll also come in handy while updating your resume.  

In this way you’ll be able to optimize your actions both before you go, during and after your next networking event. Don't be afraid to invest the time. You'll be glad you did.

Share Experiences & Get Creative

The  best way to become better connected is to share experiences that are meaningful. Turning an initial meeting into a healthy, long-term relationship requires investment. Trust between people grows through repeated experiences. Work towards establishing the kind of relationships and reputation that makes people want to come to you when they want to share both opportunities and accomplishments.

Stay Active On Social Media

All of your digital assets should be in alignment and make it clear what it is that you offer. From there keep active by sharing relevant, useful and interesting information. Focus on the quality of your interactions, not the number of followers. Engaging in meaningful conversations and offering value, will help your network grow naturally on its own.  

Join Professional Groups and Communities 

It is important to have a network of professionals you can tap into because you never know when you might need career advice, a reference, support or insights into a job search. Reaching out to an already established and well-respected network translates to more knowledge and access to other industries which will translate into better opportunities down the road.

Social connections bind our communities together. By prioritizing human interactions and finding meaningful ways to connect during this time of physical distance and social isolation, we can support each other and work towards our professional aspirations together.

This blog post is a part of a series of posts on the topic of virtual networking. Keep an eye out for additional tips and tools and events during YP Week about optimizing your online presence in the upcoming weeks.  

As a solutions-focused, Digital Marketing Manager Kasia specializes in heading the strategic growth of non-profit organizations. She is a proud Hamiltonian and privileged to be working alongside fellow YP's at Hamilton HIVE.