The official Path Forward networking motto is, “Who you know is what you know.” Networking is a key part not just to landing a new job, but figuring out what job you’d like to do in the first place. Talking with friends, old colleagues, classmates, and acquaintances can broaden your perspective on what the job market looks like, what skills are in demand, and the different roles that exist in your career field.
If you don’t have the time or opportunity to meet with others in-person, that doesn’t mean your networking has to take a pause. Here are five ways you can reach out and network virtually.
1. Grab a virtual coffee.
Getting a coffee with a friend or old coworker is a great way to network, and you can do so in a virtual space too.If anything, meeting virtually will let you find time to connect with a wider variety of old friends and acquaintances, accommodating mis-matched schedules or long distances.
2. Take it online.
Take your networking to the website that was created for it: LinkedIn. First, make sure your profile is complete and up-to-date with any courses you’ve taken or skills you’ve picked up during your career break. Networking on LinkedIn is a pressure-free way to get back into a professional mindset and connect with your network. Message your existing connections, connect with new ones, and stay active by posting and commenting on your feed and any groups you’re a part of. After a webinar or conference, reach out on LinkedIn to any presenters you found especially inspiring or fellow attendees.
Need some help getting started? Watch our popular webinar on how to successfully leverage your LinkedIn profile.
3. Join an online group.
Connect with affinity groups, alumni associations, and professional groups in your career field. Groups such as Women Who Code and Women in Product are on Slack, LinkedIn, or other platforms to allow members to connect and share and offer events or message boards that you can take part in. Also look into joining more general career-oriented sites like Fairygodboss, Ladies Get Paid, and Elpha have active forums on career advice and more specific sub-groups on a variety of interests.
4. Attend a virtual event.
Events are certainly not the only way to network, but they can still be a valuable way to meet people outside of your existing circle of connections. Look through the virtual event postings in your online professional groups, and browse through sites like MeetUp and Eventbrite for upcoming networking opportunities in your local area or career field.
5. Build an online presence.
Beyond LinkedIn, other social media and community platforms can be a great place to showcase your skills and build up a professional online presence. You can start a YouTube channel to create tutorials or share your thoughts on advances in your industry, or communicate with others on tech-focused platforms like GitHub and Stack Overflow. Not only will you be able to show off your skills and experience, but you can find connection with like-minded individuals in the industries you’d like to work in.
Anna Khomina is a content writer and marketing coordinator at Path Forward.
Originally published May 2020.