How to Be Prepared for Networking
May 3, 2021
What a difference a year makes!
In 2020, we were learning how to navigate our professional lives without the benefit of physical face-to-face interaction. We had to figure out how to stay connected virtually, and still have meaningful networking conversations. Whether you were looking for a new job or just trying to keep the networking fires burning, it was an adventure.
A year later – spring of 2021 – already feels so much better. As the world slowly opens up (or promises to), we are blooming in a new way. I feel like I’ve been living underground for a year and I’m finally able to emerge into the sunshine.
The networking world is different now, and we need to be in tune with that. While we will be able to have face-to-face meetings once again, we’ve also learned how to use Zoom and other forms of technology to stay connected and we can expect that we’ll keep using them. For one reason, some people may be more cautious before they venture out into the physical world and will choose to remain out of the face-to-face world a bit longer.
And also, the virtual world has brought us some important benefits! We can be more flexible with when we meet. We can connect with people who are a significant distance away without having to negotiate or spend the travel time. Those are just two big benefits that I hope we’ll hold on to.
But there’s another side to this. Some people simply do better face-to-face.
For job seekers in particular, if you prefer in person conversations, not being able to connect in that way may have prolonged your job search.
One of my clients recently said to me: “If I could only get in front of someone face to face, I know I would present myself so much better.” As an extrovert, I can see this being a challenge. For me, there’s nothing better than being in close proximity with someone so that I can really feel like we’ve connected! Conversely, someone who is more introverted might be thriving in the virtual experience and feel reticent about returning to the in-person experience.
Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, if you are looking for a job you will need to start re-connecting with your network
To maximize this opportunity, I invite you to lean in to one of the cornerstones of job searching: Be prepared.
Be prepared with your networking strategy before you enter the job market. It is the most effective way to find your next role.
Be prepared to have conversations about what you are looking for in your new position so that whenever you are in a position to talk about it, you know what to say.
Be prepared to not just talk, but also listen. Listening will help you leave an amazingly good impression and that will help people remember you.
Be prepared to be uncomfortable with in-person experiences. It’s ok to feel that way, and you probably won’t be the only one. It is going to take us time to break back out into the world.
Be prepared to have both virtual and in-person conversations. While we’re moving into a new norm, our new skills from this last year will continue to serve us.
I hope this helps you think a little more intentionally about what you have ahead of you in this next year. There are so many opportunities coming your way! The best thing that you can do is to be prepared for whatever they are.
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