When COVID came, networking became difficult. Coffee breaks with colleagues, personal meetings or networking events have disappeared. But the biggest challenge is that the contacts themselves have “disappeared”.
To maintain networks and contacts, both in professional and private life, is difficult. In some cases they have disappeared from the face of the earth. On the one hand, this is due to home office activities, shorter working hours and the juggling of private and professional roles.
It is crucial to re-establish a connection. Especially now, when the professional future is so uncertain, experts say that networking is crucial in order to seize the next opportunity – be it with the current employer or elsewhere. And you don’t have to hire Idiana Jones to find a lost contact. Once you have found the contact, the effective way to make contact is usually the same as before.
Below are six ways you can keep your network running, even after months of a pandemic whose end is not yet in sight.
– Start like last time
If you last reached a contact person via their company email address, start there. When the email returns, check the LinkedIn or XING profile of the contact person to see if they have updated it with new contact information. You could also contact them via XING or LinkedIn itself, although the success rate is not always high.
The following is a better approach: Consider contacting shared contacts and using their personal or professional emails to see if you get a response.
– Be patient
There is no doubt that jobs and lives have been turned upside down. Many people are on short time, and those who are working are probably in their home offices or are slow to return. In addition, people are balancing work with teaching their children (or engaging in summer activities) or caring for sick relatives. In this environment, repeated memories of the network are not appreciated. Instead, carefully distribute the nudges over time, adapted to what you think would work when you were in their position. Go in with the modest expectation that someone will respond in a week or less.
– The message is the same
A good network can survive any pandemic. It should be about cultivating mutual relationships. The same strategies for building relationships that were used six months ago are still working now.
No one should start a network conversation with “I need a job. Successful networking is about building relationships. It can begin by making a list of possible things you can do for the people in your network. Perhaps you can connect with an important partner in a particular area. Or point out a little-noticed but significant new research paper. Even a small thing, experts say, if done sincerely and really meaningful to the other person, can jump-start your network.
– But the tone can change
Before the pandemic, people usually greeted each other with “How are you?” “Hope you’re doing well” in emails or networks. However, these “phrases” might be met with uncertainty and the existential fear that has been triggered since the beginning of the crisis.
– Go “face to face”
Start to see each other again. Instead of being satisfied with just a phone call, set up video chats more often so that they can actually see each other. Video calls can make it easier to connect and be authentic – especially with a new person. And since most of us have practiced video calling for several months, technical problems or even dogs running around should not be a problem.
– Create your own personal contact list
Hopefully you’ve kept a good contact database and kept records of people’s email addresses, phone numbers and preferred contact methods. If not, start now and get people’s personal emails and mobile phone numbers this time.