My takeaway from the Global Leadership Lab Immersion week held on January 27 to 30th, 2020,  lies in the quote by Tim Sanders: “Your network is your net worth.” meaning It’s not what you know but whom you know. Socializing, building new relationships, and making new connections is an art.

From the lesson learned, I decided to be intentional in growing my network. However, Covid19 came with its thorns, which change our sense of normality. With the anxiety, apprehension, and seclusion caused by the pandemic.  It became practically impossible to meet in person.

However, the pandemic also came with its advantages; it made us realized the importance of social interaction and the need to keep our mental health intact no matter the situation.  With the shift, the physical locality is no more an obstacle, the old-fashioned approach of in-person networking before the pandemic has moved to the virtual connection. Social media has made the link easier, within the comfort of your home, you can grow your network while practicing safe distancing. People still found jobs through online platforms during the COVID-19 crisis. It is easier, less time consuming and less expensive especially when you consider other factors, e.g. transportation.

During the January lab, I jotted down some points to guide me through networking and make the process meaningful and memorable. These points, in addition to other useful hints, will make networking more productive during the pandemic.

Be Visible: Create or update your online profile. Your online profile project who you are and the brand you represent. It is essential to sell or emphasize on your desired brand. Update your social media with your current experiences and skills. Your profile is your stage, what people perceived from your page reveals or tell who you are. LinkedIn, for instance, is one of the significant media platforms for professional connections. 

Search for Your Tribe:  These are those with similar or same values, ideas, and interests. A connection could be for knowledge, career, and personal development purposes.  There must be people who share a common interest, as at June 2020, the world population was about 7.5 Million.

To identify and connect, compile a list of folks and individuals of interest (professional and otherwise), use google, social media, online social gathering, meetings, and conferences as an avenue in collating the list. Ask friends, colleagues, mentors, course mates, lecturers, and bosses to introduce or refer you to your tribe. To create a meaningful connection, draw out a plan on how many people you desire to meet/connect every month.

Do your Homework: While compiling the list and meetups, do your homework in jotting down relevant questions about your contact interest, achievement and think about how both parties will be related or applicable to each other. It is vital to add value during the discussion, as this will keep the conversation or focus going. What you bring to the table is how you will be valued.

Get in Touch: Reach out using social media platforms to the individuals on the list compiled e.g. LinkedIn messaging. While reaching out, introduce who you are, your experience and skills, and how the connection will be useful to you.  Participate or contribute to online discussions on issues of interest, attend webinars, virtual workshops/conferences, online panel or debate, and online networking events that support your interest while connected to persons of like minds.

Cultivate and Maintain Connections: The deal is not just about making a new connection but maintaining that relationship. I know it is not even easy to keep a relationship; you must remain in contact to continue that connection that has started; this will further develop that relationship. Be intentional about keeping in touch; connect not only when you need help. Set up or show up at virtual hangout, explore platforms such as skype, google, or Zoom for coffee, happy hours, etc. Share advice, goals, opportunities, and assist in building and improving each order skills. If the virtual network is solely professional, then the invite should come with a clear plan to avoid a waste of energy and time. Never downplay the power in follow-up after the meeting, follow up with thank-you notes.

Referral: A very crucial aspect of networking is that at the end of the meeting ask him/her to offer or introduce you to contact relevant to your discussion. One can be surprised at how networking will fall into place by this simple question. Imagine calling the contact and starting your introduction with your referral name. The presentation makes the connection more straight forward, accessible, and comfortable.

Appreciation/Gratitude: Do not forget to send a small gift or appreciation email, text, or call during the holidays or events that will help you connect personally. This gesture is to show appreciation for their contribution to your success.

Keywords: Make a list, research, connect, and grow your network.