Networking during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, daily life has changed drastically.  As a community, we now have to communicate and work virtually making connecting with employers and finding new career opportunities a more overwhelming and daunting task.  Although these changes continue to pose new and unique challenges, there are a variety of ways to make yourself stand out to an employer online as well as new opportunities to network and communicate with individuals in different occupational fields.  Now more than ever it is important to utilize social media and other electronic platforms to make yourself stand out to employers and also showcase your experiences and skills.  With social media websites such as LinkedIn, you have the ability to not only apply to job and internship opportunities but also to network with other individuals on the website.  To successfully network and apply to jobs, you must first have a complete LinkedIn profile that showcases your accomplishments, work history, educational history, and other achievements.  Even if you decide to network through different social media platforms, it is still extremely important to have a LinkedIn that showcases your skills and experience as you can continually reference it on other social media platforms and in professional correspondence.

LinkedIn Checklist

-Make sure to have a photo of yourself on LinkedIn so that you can easily be recognized!

-Include key words in your LinkedIn that are directly related to the field you are interested in!  This will make you stand out to employers

-Think of your LinkedIn as a brochure for yourself!  Make sure to include important experiences such as volunteering and on-campus clubs and activities to fully exhibit your skills!

-Use a headline! This should describe what job you want and also outline your key skills. Make sure to utilize keywords in your headline.

-List your skills and have those you have worked with endorse these skills if possible. This can help give you credibility and also assist with networking

-Finally, proofread your LinkedIn.  Make sure you don’t have any grammatical or spelling errors.  If you want, Grammarly is a great tool to double check that your LinkedIn is grammatically correct and that the sentence structure is cohesive and understandable.

Tip:

To not overwhelm yourself put aside 1-2 hours a week to work on improving your LinkedIn.  This can make the task considerably less overwhelming.

 

Networking on LinkedIn

When networking, make sure to keep in mind who is likely to respond to you and also who will help you reach your personal career aspirations.  Specifically, instead of reaching out to the CEO or manager of an organization try reaching out to someone in charge of hiring or someone who works in the department you are interested in.  This not only boosts your chances of hearing back from that individual but can also ensure that you are conversing with someone who could actually have some input in the hiring procedures of a specific department.  In addition to this, when reaching out to individuals don’t be afraid to ask to set up a video conferencing meeting.  Through having a video call, a more personal connection can be made as you will have the chance to see each other’s facial expressions and body language which can lead to a more natural interaction and a better impression.

Quick tips for networking:

-Make sure to send personalized messages!  This will make it more likely that the person you are reaching out to will respond and have a good first impression.

-Respond quickly!  Make sure that you check LinkedIn frequently to ensure that you are getting back to people in a timely manner

-Join LinkedIn groups!  Through finding groups that are focused on the industry you are interested in you can easily make connections with others in the field!

-Post engaging content!  Make sure to post articles and other content that helps to support your desired image as well as posting regularly you show that your profile is up to date.

-Curate your online presence!  While your LinkedIn may look great, make sure that if someone you connect with through LinkedIn googles your name or finds your Facebook profile there is nothing that could greatly hurt your image.

-Connect with people you already know!  Reach out to current friends and people you have worked as well as people you have lost contact with.

-It ok to ask your network for help!  If you are looking for a job or opportunity, ask your connections.  They might know of something and since they have an impression of you are more likely to help connect you with a job, internship opportunity, or volunteer experience that fits your interests.

While LinkedIn is the most popular professional networking platform there are a variety of others that you can utilize to connect with potential employers and professionals.  While you can use Facebook, twitter and even Instagram to network, there are some sites similar to LinkedIn that provide a more professional approach.  These social media platforms can be used in addition to LinkedIn to help create an even larger virtual network.

-Opportunity: a networking site that prides itself on “professional matchmaking.” It strives to connect people based upon their needs.  For instance, users can be notified each time someone in their target market indicates that they need what the user offers.  In addition, professionals can discover other professionals based upon the preferences they select (ex: industry, profession). This is especially great for job and internship searching!

-Meetup: Meetup is a cool platform that allows you to seek out (or create!) local meetups. When you register, you mark your interests. Meetup will then notify you of any local meetups that you might be interested in, as they are created.  This can allow you to meet many professionals in a field you are interested in easily!  Due to COVID, Meetup is doing many online group video calls among professionals in different industries which allows you to meet and connect with new individuals easily from your own home!

-Finally, don’t forget about Facebook groups!  Through joining a group professional group through this platform, you can easily connect with people in specific fields and have the opportunity to ask questions and get to know others! 

 

 

 

By Lindsey Albrecht
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