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How to build your professional network without leaving home

Networking is a powerful way to expand your list of professional contacts and bring you closer to new opportunities. But with the coronavirus pandemic canceling all the in-person events that are perfect for socializing professionally, expanding your network these days can seem impossible.

Still, there’s no need for despair: with the right approach, the online world can offer you plenty of opportunities to expand your network and build professional relationships. To help you network from the comfort of your home, here are 6 tips to follow.

Reach out to an author: If you read a book or article related to your profession that you found interesting, reach out to the author. Many authors don’t hear from their readers, so if you reach out to them, you will likely stand out.

Connect with speakers: Despite in-person events being cancelled, there are still plenty of virtual conferences or workshops you can attend. And if you like the speaker at one of these online events, tell them what you enjoyed about their talk and try to connect with them via a social network like LinkedIn. Just connecting with one thought leader can bring you into contact with a whole pool of new professional contacts.

Engage with fellow audience members: Just like the tips above, it’s a great idea to reach out to someone who has a message that you connect with. This goes for fellow audience members who might say something that you agreed with during a virtual Zoom event or online conference. Send a message their way to thank them for their comment and see what conversation comes out of it.

Log on early to Zoom: While you might cringe at the idea of spending more time on Zoom than necessary, joining an event early can give you the chance to speak with fellow audience members and perhaps even the speaker. Ask someone where they are based these days or how they are handling working remotely.

Follow up: Relationship strategist Andy Lopata recommends using the 24/7/30 rule when you want to follow up with them. Follow up with them 24 hours after speaking with them, and then shoot them a quick email or LinkedIn request  7 and then 30 days later. Let them know how you are implementing something the two of you discussed. 

Be visible on social media: If your profile is stale and sees little activity, people will not think you exist and will be unlikely to reach out to you. When you engage with content online, you also boost the chances of someone engaging with you.

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