What Does Networking Look Like?
July 19th, 2021
We have all been following the trends and changes in business that have occurred as a result of the pandemic. Recently life has begun shifting back to normal. Most states are now at a point where restaurants, business, and sports stadiums are at full capacity. Many of us are doing face-to-face meetings and in some cases in-person conferences. However, the change to networking that occurred during the pandemic remains in some ways.
Networking is important for the development of business, but also for education and comradery. The pandemic changed how we network and who we prioritize and despite life slowly shifting back to normal, there are still some barriers to in-person meetings and networking opportunities such as:
-More people are working from home full-time
-Some are utilizing a hybrid work schedule
-People are not comfortable in large gatherings
-Many conferences are still virtual
Despite these barriers, it is important to build a strong and helpful network. When it comes to networking, it’s not the number of people in your network, but the quality. The changing landscape will push us to look for meaningful relationships that provide support, knowledge, and opportunity. For example, I am part of a national association and in the last year I have become more involved by serving on a committee and participating in board meetings, even though I am not a board member. This has allowed me the chance to get to know a handful of individuals in my field, from around the country, with a common goal. I have grown professionally, by providing articles, being featured in the newsletter, and helping on various projects, with the positive support of these individuals.
What are the steps you should take to grow your network?
Get realistic: Having 5000 followers on social media looks impressive, but how many of those individuals can you lean on for support, business opportunities, and learning? It is OK to have that many followers, but your network should be smaller and stronger. Identify a smaller group or groups to build on. Also, look for diversity of skills and backgrounds. This makes networking more exciting and beneficial.
Look online: With more people looking for non-traditional/virtual networking events, go online and see what some local associations or business groups are providing. Many are doing virtual coffee hours or cocktail parties either weekly or monthly.
Make calls: We are in the era of texting, not talking, mostly because texting is easier. However, picking up the phone and talking with someone will never go out of style, especially now. People are eager to talk, not text. Those conversations about kids, hobbies, and even work, are the things that bring us together and form a common bond and a deeper relationship.