"What are some strategies for networking virtually?"
This has become a common question for all professions and in fact, these are the best times to network using all the modern tools and social media. ACS offers free LinkedIn training for all its members and this can be an excellent tool for virtual networking. While using the social media is a good way for networking, I caution our members to be careful about privacy matters. We should follow the same courtesy guidelines in virtual networking as we do with in-person networking.
A key objective for networking is to enhance your circle of professional reach, get to know your peers and their colleagues at the place of their work, understand their interests and finally explore any professional opportunities that they know of. It is very important to start the conversation with a nice introductory message, establishing a connection with common interests that you both may have. Based on the outcome of this initial introductory conversation, a possible next step could be to get in to job-related professional discussions.
LinkedIn and Facebook are the two main tools I use for virtual networking – I share posts and messages with my network every day. If I haven’t talked to someone for a while, and they “like” or “comment” on my post, it reminds me to check in on them. Instant messaging on Facebook works well – I feel it is easier than making a phone call – everyone is multi-tasking all the time these days – I like that the response time is more flexible online.
WhatsApp and FaceTime are also great for networking with local and international colleagues – it feels a little bit more personal than LinkedIn. Someone I haven’t seen for a while would send a photo (maybe from their travel) and it immediately sparks a conversation. Seems personal and genuine.
I prefer to set-up a meeting with my closest network in advance and use either the phone or video for the meeting. Prior to the meeting I will let my network know what I want to talk by sharing a topic or idea I would like her to consider. I may also share data or a research article that supports the topic or key question.
This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.
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