Clearly attending in-person networking events is the Autobahn of networking: the obvious, straight, fast and easy way that everybody knows.
However, for some of you, attending networking events is not practical. Perhaps you are looking for a job in another country. Or maybe you live in a remote area. Possibly you are uncomfortable meeting new people in an unpredictable environment. If you're like me, it's the decibels at events that drive you crazy.
Also different cultures approach networking differently. For some, meeting entirely new people in a crowded and loud environment is perfectly normal and comfortable (think Italy) but in others a much quieter setting would be preferred (think Finland). In a culture like the US it is expected of you to share your accomplishments whereas in Japan a much more humble attitude is the norm.
Whatever the reason, do not despair, you can conduct effective networking online, from the comfort of your home, and do it in a way that feels more natural to you. Back to our driving analogy, if the Autobahn is jammed with traffic or just closed, you may get to your destination faster using country roads (and isn't that more fun?)
Don't get me wrong, meeting people face to face has many advantages over any phone call, email exchange or even video call. and I am not advocating that you replace in person with online, far from it! I am suggesting you use both, just in a different way.
Online you can have a targeted approach, combining research on your topic with a soft outreach that lets people know who you are and what interests you in a way that is much easier to adjust culturally. That opens the door to conversations that you can continue in person where possible or by video if you are in different locations.
My favorite online networking tool is LinkedIn, through which I have built a global network of experts, received interest in my business from complete strangers in far flung countries, recruited my best ever intern, had pivotal conversations and made lifelong friends.
I meet many business owners, job seekers and academics who have never considered using online networking toward their goals. They feel they have nothing to say (that one boggles my mind because they often have fascinating stories and perspectives!) or they say they can't write well, or they just plain feel awkward putting themselves "out there". And I get it, the first time I posted something it felt weird. But as soon as I got a couple of comments I was hooked!
Because I want to share my experience with online networking, I have decided to launch an online course to help people through the process. I will guide them from a basic dormant LinkedIn profile to a rich and vibrant conversation with like-minded contacts that can move them toward their goals so much faster and enrich their lives to boot. Currently this project is at the pilot stage and I would love to speak with you briefly to learn about your struggles with networking and to help me figure out what the course should include.
If you are willing to speak with me for 15/20 minutes, please let me know here (or just reply to this email) and we will schedule a chat. I appreciate your help!
If you'd like to be alerted when the course is ready to launch, click here