By Kristin Herman
Networking has taken the internet by storm, especially in a time when intersectionality and diversity are heavily discussed on social media and elsewhere. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people are either working at home or staying home after being furloughed.
So, how can people possibly meet new contacts in person?
Virtual networking is already a thing, and people are using it more and more for business reasons. When done properly, you can translate this success into in-person networking success. With that said, steer clear of these seven common mistakes that most people would make in virtual networking:
Not Dressing Professionally
“One of the most common mistakes to make is trying to network in casual attire,” says Numbers Olney, a blogger at Study demic and Revieweal. “Especially when networking from the comfort of your home. However, if you dress professionally, as if you were attending an in-person networking event, it can help you establish a professional mindset and demeanor during virtual meetings.”
Sending Meaningless LinkedIn Connection Requests
Just because you send a connection request on LinkedIn doesn’t mean that you should abandon further opportunities, should the recipient respond to your request. Instead, talk to them. To maximize success, let them get to know you and make the message custom-made. Regardless if you’re networking virtually or in-person, personalize your outreach and try to spark their interest.
Get to know them even BEFORE you send the request. Try combing through the person’s profile and see what their interests are, what they like to do, what their occupation is, etc. As you do so, you’re opening up doors for future conversations.
Wanting Too Much Help
Although it’s okay to reach out on social media for help, it’s never okay to make a personal request where the recipient might not be able to help. Instead of asking: “I’m applying for a job at your company, can you help me?” try saying, “I’m interested in working at your company. I would appreciate you sharing with me your experience working there.”
Focusing Mainly On New Contacts
Although it’s important to interact with your new contacts, you should never neglect your existing contacts either. Although it can be hard to continue a conversation with someone, don’t let that stop you from keeping the conversation alive with another person – chances are, your original commentator might come back and continue the conversation with you.
Plus, you can follow up with contacts that you’ve already spoken to so that they know you’re interested in having conversations with them – creating a stable relationship in the virtual networking realm.
If you plan to sell something, you wouldn’t want to oversell, right? The same is true with virtual networking. Overselling yourself leads to potential contacts becoming disinterested and flat-out refusing your contact request. Remember: networking is all about sharing the same goals and interests, not trying to turn into an overnight cash cow with multiple opportunities – that part will take a while to come into fruition.
“Messaging is the most basic part of networking,” says Jacqueline Cortez, a business writer at Simple Grad and Academized. “However, it’s easy to write generic messages to people that you want to network with, especially on LinkedIn. You can’t do that with people with whom you don’t have a direct working relationship with. Instead, always include a custom message with your request. Before you send a message, spend a few minutes reviewing people’s profiles and make sure to mention something that you found interesting in their profiles.”
Unprofessional Virtual Setup
Just like with clothes, your own virtual setup has to be professional-looking. First check your connectivity, sound and visual elements. Make sure that the room where you’re doing your virtual networking is not cluttered in any way.
As you embark in virtual networking, remember to avoid these seven common mistakes. With the right approach, you can build and sustain meaningful professional connections – and ultimately master virtual networking.
Kristin Herman is a writer and editor at Top Canadian Writers and Write my Australia. She also writes for online magazines and blogs, such as Australian Reviewer. As a tech enthusiast, she blogs about the latest trends in technology, networking, and social media.