Tech tips to grow your network

The pandemic has helped many of us rethink how we engage with others, how we think about events and even caused some companies to rethink their workforce strategy. Many firms have embraced remote working and others began adopting hybrid models. Regardless of the situation, networking is still critical to obtain that next role, promotion and build strong lasting relationships.

So what’s new, what’s different and how do you approach this new environment to grow your network and build meaningful relationships.

four people in a videoconference

QR codes are back
This has been the biggest shift to reduce touch points and digitize lots of items we valued experiencing in person like restaurant menus and business cards. Consider adding a QR code to you business card that links to your LinkedIn profile. Why? To make it easier to instantly connect with someone, also if you’re done to one last card or the person doesn’t have a place to store it they and many others can connect with their phone.

LinkedIn right away but with context
This one hasn’t changed but it is still one of the simplest things folks forget to do. LinkedIn is a great way to keep professional relationships going, by checking in, sharing information and staying in the know of professional changes/milestones. When sending a LinkedIn request always add in a personal note noting how, where you met and calling out something that stood out to you, some advice from them you took o even asking specific follow up questions or using it as an opportunity to schedule a follow up meeting. Below are three additional tips to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and increase visibility:

1. Keep it up to date. Add a recent photo, headline, summary (About me), education, current and past experience, volunteer experience and skills
2. Make your profile public, especially the items noted above
3. Stay active. Add a background image and consider posting/reposting content once a week

Video conferencing over phone calls
Zoom, Google Meet and FaceTime have revolutionized how we connect virtually. We now have more context by seeing each other face-to-face and believe it or not have been connecting more deeply than if we were connecting via audio conferencing. For those of us who’ve worked remotely, we’ve met each other’s kids, pets, significant others and in a way visited each other’s home – it has increased our understanding of each other’s situation, increased empathy and allowed us to be more mobile too. When scheduling a video call follow these three key tips:
1. Keep the passcode simple, if you’re the one setting up the meeting or enable a waiting room. If you enable a waiting room, log in at least 5 minutes early to make sure they’re not waiting to get in an there are no issues with the meeting details. If you’re using Zoom, consider making your meeting id or personal id easy as well.
2. Set up your frame. Place your device in an area with a nice background, ensure good lighting and a place with minimal background noise. Lighting is key regardless of if you’re using a virtual background or not. If you are using a virtual background, make sure that it’s not too distracting and that your clothes don’t match the background main color or the wall/items behind you in real-life. Otherwise, you’ll be disappearing during your meeting. Also, make sure you’re close up enough but aren’t cutting of your head, typically one inch of headroom is best. If you gestate, frame it so your arms, torso are visible while keep all other considerations previously noted in mind.
3. Prep in advance. Test your audio before a meeting and don’t forget to have a notepad and writing utensil to take notes. Think about questions you want to ask and write them out in advance to regency in case you forget or the conversation get’s awkward/silent.

Follow up
Networking is about relationship building not how many people you meet but how many meaningful relationships you have, i.e. quality over quantity. Below are a few follow up ideas to consider:

  • Set up a regular touch point: If the first meeting is going well or went well, ask them if it’s okay to set up a regular catch up to get their advice and stay in touch.
  • Frequently share interesting news/articles that might interest them or relate to something you discussed, note how it reminded you of them, your perspectives or ask them what they think. Also, share useful resources that might benefit them.
  • Event invites: Ask them to join you for an event you’re attending and they might find interesting, it can be anything a conference, exhibit, workshop, festival or even work out class. Don’t be discouraged if they say no, there’s always a next time and trust takes time to build.
  • Share updates and milestones: Share big news and use it as an opportunity to say thank you and highlight how some of their advice might have helped. If you’re meeting up soon, you can note the milestone and say you can’t wait to talk more soon.

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