Keep These 3 Things in Mind When Networking During COVID
Networking is a commonly used phrase, but what does it mean?
Networking is speaking to individuals inside and outside of your organisation to learn, develop or enhance your understanding of a particular subject. It has the underlying objective of enhancing personal and professional relationships.
That was definitely a mouthful — but one thing for sure, people can find networking overwhelming in normal office circumstances. Add in social distancing and working from home, and it becomes even more challenging.
We are told time and time again, networking is critical to both personal and professional growth. Why — we may ask? It’s because it serves multiple purposes including mentorship, friendship, career development and improved ideation. The more broadly you network, the more you can overcome the ‘confirmation bias’. This is the phenomena where people surround themselves with individuals with a similar background, experiences, values and opinions, who tend to confirm (and not challenge) their ideas and behaviours. Hence, the more broadly you network, the more you can question your beliefs or practices.
Without networking your personal growth may be stunted, and you may lose the opportunity at meeting some incredible and unique people. This is even more challenging when you are working remotely without your usual team members, colleagues or friends in the same location as you.
What to keep in mind?
Accordingly, here are a few quick tips shape conversations during isolation:
Do not forget, everyone has ‘stuff’ going on in their personal life.
So the golden question is — ‘how are you?’. It’s very easy when you’re nervous or stressed to forget the basics. You are talking to a person. It’s import to show you care and more importantly it helps create a safe place. Particularly, if you plan on asking for help from the other person, you need to make sure they are even in the right frame of mind to have an open conversation. Just because the timing may be right for you, it may not be right for them.
Network with purpose.
It is definitely great to let the conversation to flow naturally, but it remains vital to value peoples time. Networking is about enhancing or broadening your understanding, you are not outsourcing the hard work. Spend time researching the topic, person or company you intend to speak about. Try to answer the question yourself, then see how it compares to other responses. I don’t mean to regurgitate what you read on a news article, I mean to understand it. For example, when I was contemplating whether to enrol in postgraduate Law, I spoke to a range of people, in Law Firms and Banking firms. I would ask subjective questions, to get their opinion about why they chose that line of work and what parts of their jobs they enjoy most about the role. These questions helped me shape my view on what type of work I wanted to focus on.
Share your wins, losses, tips and ideas on how you are getting through isolation.
You have a voice and can add value to the conversation and to peoples lives. Networking should not be one-sided, even when you are speaking to senior stakeholders. Covid-19 is a great example, as this is a novel situation — and new to everyone. Human beings naturally are compassionate beings and love to feel a sense of community. A common trait of great leaders is they respect and listen to everyone regardless of seniority. So while it may be intimidating it a great way to show off your personality and emphasise that you can be resilient during challenging circumstances. It’s a great way to learn some excellent personal or professional ‘hacks’ you can introduce into your daily routine or in your business. I also think its important to show off your mistakes, and things that haven’t worked for you. This has two key benefits, the first, people can advise you on ways to alter your approach to make that particular activity a success. The second is it shows that you learn from failure.
The techniques above help improve your conversations and grow your network naturally. If you are mindful of these, you can gain a lot of confidence in networking.