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How To Network In The Covid Age

Date: 04/20/2021
Networking was enough of a challenge even before the workplace had to adjust to a global pandemic. But now, in an age of Covid and social-distancing measures, developing rapport with a new contact can feel near-impossible, especially via Zoom. How can one possibly make worthwhile connections through the webcam built into your laptop?
The value of building a professional network goes far beyond racking up your follower count and projecting an image of success. Your network comes in handy when looking for a career change or new opportunities, seeking out new clients, and times when you are looking for feedback or resources and skills. But when you need that network is not the time to first get started building one, and it’s important to foster these relationships, even while working from home. 
Networking expert J. Kelly Hoey joined a recent Women’s Lunch at LMHQ to discuss how to optimize (and even enjoy!) virtual networking. Her experience as an attorney and angel investor, working with the biggest brands in the game, led to her first book Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Connections In A Hyper-Connected World — a modern and practical guide to the necessary task of networking.  
“Networking online is no different than networking in real life,” she explained at the Women’s Lunch, “it is not secondary.” Hoey asserted that logging onto Zoom should be treated no differently than setting foot into LMHQ’s 20th floor workspace, and messaging someone on social media is akin to saying hello to someone when grabbing a coffee or bagel at the office canteen. All of these exchanges can feel just as genuine online as they do in physical spaces. 
Hoey also discussed how to give a full picture of yourself in one moment to someone you’ve just met, which often can feel overwhelming. Keep it short but descriptive, she said. Six words can spark conversation and give someone a robust picture of who you are, strengthening your connection and steering future conversations. 
Give a brief description of yourself at the Q+A portion of a Zoom meeting. It’s an effective way to introduce yourself not only to the panel, but to every single person in the room. Offering a simple six-word introduction about yourself is useful to panelists so they can better answer your question. Plus, according to Hoey, no questions are stupid questions so you can feel free to jump right in and take advantage of the opportunity. 
Time ran out before Hoey could get to other topics asked about networking, but fortunately these were issues she has previously addressed on her podcast, Build Your Dream Network, on episodes that cover how to overcome your personal anxieties when asking for help, and ways for freelancers to sell themselves without coming across too forceful but also not have to apologize for their ambitions
Networking can feel intimidating in any circumstance, but with the help of experts like Hoey, and spaces like LMHQ fostering those connections and spreading the word on how to do it, there’s no reason you can’t step forward with confidence at the next Zoom meeting, and make sure every single person knows who you are.