Developing your professional network is very important, both online and in person. Typically, I find it easier to expand my network in person, and continue to cultivate the connection online later. I recently finished my undergrad, and thus much of my networking experience is from my time in university. There were many networking events on my university campus that I would attend to meet new people and expand my network. These would usually be hosted by my faculty and they’d invite students and alumni from related industries to congregate and mingle with each other. For any new contacts I would make at these events, I would be sure to follow up based on the contact information I have for them, for example sending a LinkedIn message, and reach out to them after the event. Some of these contacts I would meet for a coffee chat later and discuss business, trends, career goals, professional development resources, and more. During my last year of university my classes would often have guest speakers that were alumni of the school and had since graduated and had successful business careers. I would make it a point to go up to them after class and say a quick thank you for sharing their insight and experiences with us. Often times we would end up adding each other on LinkedIn or connecting again and having a chat.
In light of the current global pandemic happening, I’m not able to continue in person activities to grow my network. Until we are able to return to a time where public gatherings are safe again, I will be using this time to focus on and strengthen the network I already have. I plan to make use of this time spent staying inside by setting up virtual coffee chats to keep in touch with my network. I think it’s important to contact members of your network and interact with them every now and again. This is a unique opportunity right now, as many people are also craving social time. By setting up calls with people in my network it will strengthen our connection and allow us to discuss relevant information for our line of work, as well as help fulfill our social needs in these trying times.