Networking has always been central to success in the management consulting recruiting process (and business in general). Building relationships is how businesses and careers grow. However, in the era of Covid-19, with so many people working remotely, in-person networking has become something of an impossibility.
Fortunately, the same technologies that have facilitated the rise of remote working can also help us keep networking in these unprecedented times. Virtual networking has come a long way and the opportunities to make new relationships over the internet are everywhere if you take the time to look. Some conference and cocktail-hour veterans may long for the good old days, but people aren’t going to stop networking just because they can’t meet face-to-face. In this article, we’ll take you through the different tools you can use to keep your digital rolodex alive and well in the age of coronavirus.
How To Network When Working From Home
Many people in or aspiring to the professional & managerial classes have seen their day-to-day roles migrate from in-person work to remote & at-home work. This has only been possible because of the proliferation of communications technologies. However, while the chance to maintain employment and an income through a pandemic is a major privilege, many people have found the transition to remote working psychologically difficult. It’s not just the anxiety of the age—it’s also the fact that remote working can be lonely.
Many people’s work lives now center even more than before on productivity. Day-to-day office interactions that may have seemed trivial before, such as the proverbial water cooler chat, actually play a crucial role in undergirding our productivity demands with bonding & socializing. Humans are social animals, and we generally need contact with others to maintain a sense of wellness and meaning. 21% of those working from home name loneliness as the number one challenge.
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Networking To Find A Job
The good news is that even in normal times, best-practice networking for management consulting roles is conducted virtually. That’s right: while coffee chats are great if you can get them, they’re not necessary for success, and the ask for them can often be off-putting.
Think of networking like dating. The lower stakes you can make the first interaction, the more likely you are to hear a “yes” to the request. So, how do you do this? Write a killer cold networking email that makes an ask for a phone call, and when you’re on the phone, structure the call to get the information you want and share about you, and ask for a referral.
We break down the networking process in more detail here.
Networking To Stay Connected
What’s needed is to use those same technologies that enable remote productivity through a pandemic and reappropriate them for the purposes of socializing, company cohesion, and networking. So let’s take a look at how to remote network. Here are some remote productivity tools & strategies that can also be used for online networking.
Your Alumni Network
The alumni network is a networking tool many people utilize during normal times, and there’s no reason that has to stop in times of pandemic. The pandemic affects everyone, which means the other people from your school are in the same boat you are. They are probably just as eager to make and maintain relationships, despite the coronavirus.
Many people only use LinkedIn as a resource for searching and posting resumes. But LinkedIn functions as a full-on professionally organized social network. Depending on your networking needs, you can use LinkedIn to find and create contacts with people who share your role, your education or work history, your industry focus, and more. There are also plenty of social tools, from messaging to online groups.
Companies of all different sizes have already migrated their internal communications to slack for its flexibility and accessibility. You may have already been using slack for collaborating with co-workers. Slack can also be used as a tool to maintain close contact, to collaborate, to grow existing relationships, and even to form new relationships.
Virtual Co-Working Spaces
In the years before the pandemic, in-person co-working spaces were a powerful trend in the ways people were conducting their work lives. While the pandemic makes those spaces difficult or impossible to use, the concept of a co-working space has already migrated online. With apps like Pragli and Sococo, you can get many of the same benefits of an in-person co-working space. You can fill your environment with the ambiance of other people’s productivity. You also create the possibility for chance encounters that lead to powerful new collaborations.
Virtual Networking Events
It may seem like certain events—conferences, expositions, etc.—are irreplaceable. But many large-scale events have made very successful migrations to digital platforms. The pandemic has forced all people and institutions to become more creative. Don’t be afraid to branch out and participate in an event that you might have overlooked at an earlier time. The migration to virtual networking can also be seen as an opportunity in that it removes the practical & geographic limitations that usually govern attendance of these kinds of events. Here is an example virtual networking event for the Chicago chapter of the Construction Financial Management Association. Whatever your industry or interest, you can surely find an event like this to participate in.
In 2019, the prospect of virtual networking may have seemed like a poor substitution for the kinds of powerful connections to be made at in-person networking events. But in the wake of the coronavirus, many people have had great success in matching or exceeding the networking they were achieving before. If you allow your perspective to shift a bit, you might find that virtual networking offers many new opportunities for making and growing relationships.
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