By Erin Ewart
What a month it’s been. Like all of you, I’m feeling overwhelmed as I process everything that’s happened in just a few short weeks. I’m also feeling overwhelmed by the volume of content that’s being shared right now, and I know you may be as well – so if you’d like a quick summary of the tips below in video format, click here!
In the coming weeks, we’ll aim to address some of the common questions we’re hearing from our clients, and the first one I wanted to tackle is how to network right now.
Networking is always important for your career, and that’s going to be true more than ever as the hiring landscape gets more and more competitive in the coming months.
But it’s also a tricky time to be networking: people are distracted and consumed with other things, and organizations may be freezing their hiring or even laying people off. So how should you approach networking in the current environment?
Here are three concepts to keep front and center as you network now and in the weeks ahead:
1. Connect on a personal level
For better or worse, every single one of us is being impacted by the current crisis. This is a shared human experience on a level that we rarely experience. All these Zoom calls and virtual happy hours are demonstrating how important personal connections are right now, so this is a good time to send that email or text and let people know you’re thinking about them.
As you connect (or reconnect) with people in your network, be sure to lead with empathy; start out by asking how they are and sharing how you’re doing. And on any networking calls, dedicate the first few minutes to talking about how you’re each doing and how you’re navigating current events. It will break the ice in an authentic way and help you establish trust and rapport that will help build or warm up your relationship.
2. Be extra flexible
As mentioned above, networking is going to be even more critical for your career moving forward, as there are fewer jobs available and more people looking. So definitely try to keep up your momentum, even if that means taking one small action each day toward your networking goals.
And as you get in touch with people, signal your understanding and flexibility for whatever they might be dealing with right now. The person you’re reaching out to may be totally overwhelmed with work or family or health issues, or might be dealing with their own job anxieties; on the other hand, they may have extra time on their hands right now and be eager to connect.
You just don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s world, so go ahead and get in touch, but be sure to give them an easy out by proactively offering that if now isn’t a good time for them, you will plan to reach out again later.
3. Offer to help
At the core, networking is about give and take. The best networkers are always thinking about how they can be of service, and that’s more important now than ever. As you talk with people, listen for the challenges they are struggling with and try to share ideas, resources, or content that may be helpful to them right now.
And don’t hesitate to offer your skills as well; while many organizations are pulling back on full-time hiring right now, they may have a need you can support in a temporary or consulting capacity. Channel your authentic, genuine desire to help, and share a clear offer with the person you’re connecting with: are you a pro at project management? Can you churn out press releases or draft communications?
Think about how your skills can be valuable in times like these, and offer them from a place of service, without any expectations yet for where things may lead. Even if there isn’t a fit right now, your offer will be appreciated and they’ll be more likely to think of you when they do have a need in the future.
We hope these ideas help you navigate networking in this new landscape. Stay tuned for more of our thoughts in the weeks ahead, and please let us know what you’d like to hear about in the comments!
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