How to network when you’re not networking (an introvert’s guide to networking at a distance)
How many of you have held a digital dinner party in the past two months? Had a virtual cup of tea with a friend? And a mobile conversation while on your 30-minute walk?
Here’s the real question. In the past two months, have you connected with an old colleague, a prior boss, or followed up with a person you met at that industry function early in the year?
Even while restrictions are relaxing in some states, and reimposed in others, we are being told to continue social distancing.
This does not mean that you should be practicing social disconnecting from your network.
Now is the perfect time to reconnect with your broader network.
Because people, just like you, are seeking human connection.
They are more likely to answer their phone.
They have the time to talk because they are not commuting, have less in-person meetings, and have more unstructured time on their hands. People are feeling isolated and are grappling with how to operate at a novel pace.
I am not saying that work-life is easy right now. What I am saying is that there is an opportunity and a desire to connect, for all of us.
While physical social distancing is being recommended right now for our safety, our career success relies on us NOT distancing ourselves from our networks.
When networking is not working
If you feel like your networking is not working. If it is the least favourite thing on your To Do list, then try these easy steps to reconnect with people. They will work even if you’re an introvert.
1. Build your reconnection list. Start by considering who you have met. Women and men in your industry sector, similar in age and different in age. People within your current organisation, people from prior organisations, your alumni, and community.
2. Block out 10% of your diary for the next four weeks. That means making time for meaningful connections for about four hours per week.
3. Think about virtual coffee dates, walk and talk on the mobile, Facebook and LinkedIn. Invite them to an online course or meet-up. The sky is the limit.
4. Who do you want to meet and how can you do this?
5. Who can you help and how?
Here’s how to get the conversation started
People often mistake networking small talk as talking about the weather. In fact, the small talk is about what you have in common. A relevant subject based on the situation or context or relationship you have with the person.
Small talk is about building the relationship, and talking about something that interests the other person. The aim is to create a longer conversation that is memorable for all the right reasons.
Click here for my list of conversation starters.
Allow relationships to develop naturally. Reach out and let it unfold.
You may have heard me talk about the power of creating a Supportive Network. It’s one of the elements of the 7-Part Gravitas Model© that I use to prepare high potential women for successful promotion.
A supportive network is the way to bring the RIGHT people around you who can open doors for you that are closed to everyone else.
And NOW is the very best time to reach out and connect.
Not next year.
Not when you are back in the office.
Make the most of the ability to now see and connect with people online and in-person. You never know where a conversation might lead.
Be the obvious choice to the C-Suite.