“Every big opportunity I’ve landed was from knowing someone who knows someone; I’ve rarely gotten anything just from applying,” The Connect creator Tiffany Giles revealed to us during our chat about networking.
Resumes are good, portfolios are better, but there’s nothing like making that personal connection that establishes a bond and advances your career. With the new [socially distant] normal, however, we may not be face to face for the foreseeable future.
So, now what? Get ready for the era of 100% virtual networking.
Though the concept and preparation is the same for in-person networking, virtual networking has some nuances of its own (especially during a pandemic).
Marketing pro Tiffany Giles already shared with us why networking is essential to professional advancement, and she now wants to share 5 essential tips for effective [virtual] networking:
Start with social media
Before and after you officially meet someone, do your research. Find people on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. and check if they have a website.
Not only does this familiarize you with them and their work, interests, and values, but they’ll also likely tell you the most preferred (and efficient) way to contact them.
Find common ground to use as a conversation starter
Whether it’s a shirt, hairstyle, or an accessory, find something relatable to you both to ease into conversation.
When face-to-face, Tiffany’s favorite go to is ‘the Kate Spade bag’–she’ll often network with women who have a similar Kate Spade purse to one she owns, so she’ll compliment the bag and talk about hers to break the ice.
Not only is this a good icebreaker, but it can leave a lasting impression; not only will they remember you for your talents but also your similar taste in fashion (which can do WONDERS for you, I know because it’s worked for me before.)
Choose the appropriate attire
This isn’t just the “wear business casual attire” advice. Well, it may be for some of you depending on the event it is.
For example, a mixer may have a more relaxed dress code than a webinar or panel session; the fashion industry will have a different dress code rules than the real estate industry.
To play it safe, it’s best to keep it semi-professional and find subtle ways to show your personality (use of colors, jewelry, etc.).
Follow up within 24 hours
After you meet, it’s vital that you contact them using the best method (refer to #1) within one day. The longer you wait, the more you increase your chances of not being remembered, thus, not getting a reply.
If you don’t get a response to the first message, then follow up within a week. A bonus is to throw in some things you remember from your [virtual] interaction with them (people *love* being noticed).
Play the long game
Don’t leave the initial connection or follow-up without trying to schedule another link-up.
Think of opportunities when you can meet next virtually; it doesn’t have to be about business. Something like a book club, happy hour, or a yoga session can be effective. Get creative, don’t limit yourself!
As we adjust to this new normal, we encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to virtually connect with people while some professionals may have more downtime than usual.
Whether on or offline, be ready to show what you bring to the table. The better we can advocate for ourselves (and back it up with substantial work), the more comfortable a colleague may be with referring us for an opportunity.
Always remember what The Connect tells us: “credentials may grab attention, but passion keeps it.”