Career Coach Michele Jennae said, “Networking is not about just connecting people. It’s about connecting people with people, people with ideas, and people with opportunities.” Learn how to use e-networking to grow your career and your professional network to set yourself up for success.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed how people networked, with a reduction of in-person events and group gatherings where you could interact with others to learn about your field and expand your professional contacts. Fortunately, the internet has come to the rescue! There is now a plethora of e-networking opportunities (otherwise known as online networking) available to you, no matter your location, industry, or level of experience. You just have to know where to look and what steps you should take to make the most out of your e-networking experience.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to use e-networking successfully and effectively, including:
What is e-networking?
What are the benefits and disadvantages of online networking?
11 tips to get the most out of e-networking
E-networking has the same goals as in-person networking, but it's done via online channels like email, organized through a professional group, or on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. It’s proven to be a great alternative, especially for those who might not be quite as adept at mingling with people in a group setting. It also allows you to interact with a larger range of people, as location is not an issue.
According to a survey by Markletic, e-events aren’t necessarily easier to put together, as 74 percent of event organizers reported that it takes more than a month “to configure their virtual event program.” And 45 percent prefer shorter events over several days (instead of fewer, but longer days) to prevent “event fatigue.”
Like any situation, e-networking has its strengths and weaknesses. But what you get out of it all depends on your goals. So when deciding if e-networking (and e-networking events) are worth your time and effort, consider the following:
These days, so much interaction is done virtually, through email, chat programs, or social media. It’s important to have a good handle on how to use all of these outlets to make the most out of e-networking. So how can you do that?
Don’t limit yourself to LinkedIn. While a great resource, consider alternatives such as Meetup, Opportunity, or Slack.
Connect with others in online communities like Quora, which will allow you to gain industry knowledge and meet others in your field.
Try being a “matchmaker.” You’re more likely to stay front of mind when you’re introducing people to each other.
Always follow up. Don’t just bombard your contact with emails or chat requests; even if it’s just an “it was nice to meet you” note, you’ll be more memorable and maintain a friendly and professional reputation.
Be a giver. People will quickly tire of people who are only looking out for themselves. Make sure to inform your contact what you can do for them, too.
Know what you want to get out of e-networking, such as getting new potential clients, obtaining job referrals, or simply meeting people in your industry.
Be respectful of other people’s time. Don’t overwhelm your contacts with emails, or give ultimatums. People have a lot on their plates, and can’t always get back to you when you want them to.
Let go of the “I must advance my career at all costs” mindset and allow yourself to just meet new people, which ultimately will help you connect with colleagues, collaboration partners, and potential mentors on a more personal, human level.
Don’t forget to ask questions when you’re connecting with others virtually. Remember, people like people who are interested in them.
Make sure your online profiles are up to date, and update them regularly with new accomplishments, experience, and certifications.
Engage with the presenters and other attendees professionally and respectfully when attending online networking events. Ask relevant questions, and share observations and knowledge.
Remember, e-networking can allow you to connect with professionals all over the world and learn from people you might never have met in an in-person situation. While it takes a bit of effort, don't hide behind your computer screen. Make sure you're honest in your intentions, remain professional, and put your best foot forward.
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E-networking is done via online communication channels, organized through a professional group or on social media platforms, or reaching out to contacts individually.
E-networking is more flexible, less costly, and allows you to reach people from anywhere. It can also be less personal, lack the energy of in-person meetings, and is subject to tech issues.
Even when networking virtually, be respectful of people’s time, have goals, ask questions, and keep your professional profiles current.
Jennifer Inglis is a freelance writer and content creator with extensive professional expertise in advertising, media analysis, teaching, writing, and literature. Prior to working for Career.io, Jennifer was a public school teacher, teaching courses in college and career readiness, writing, and public speaking. Jennifer has a master’s degree in Teaching, and is the author of two published novels.