We are back to share with you Part 3 in our series on the importance of career networking. Now that many of us are working and even networking remotely, let’s discuss the proper zoom etiquette. Make sure to check out 1 and 2 of this series before continuing to read part 3!
Proper Zoom Etiquette
In the world we live in today, we may likely be doing a large portion of our networking online and on zoom. Let’s go over some basics of proper zoom etiquette.
1.) Dress Appropriately
This takes some thought because we are all in different cultures today when it comes to working. In addition to that, we are in different roles that could call for a different dress. If you are in banking, finance, law, and other professional fields then this could include business casual attire or, in some cases, a suit. There are sales environments where it could be important to wear a watch, even a certain type of watch. While there are other environments, like startups, for example, where it is appropriate to be casual. The point is, to check in with what fits the situation and the culture you work in. If you are a leader in the company, consider that. We want to be authentic and we also want to empathetically consider the communication that comes through our choice of clothing.
2.) Set the Right Environment and Background
You might choose to set up something in your home office so that your backdrop looks clean and professional. Or you may choose a virtual background. Consider the lighting and composition. You should be seen chest level up and you should be taking up at least two-thirds of the vertical space. Think through your headset so you offer the listener the best sound quality. When networking it’s a must to keep your camera on.
3.) Set up and maintain a good quality internet connection.
4.) Stay Focused and Connected
Just like you would if you were in a meeting room with someone, stay focused on that person. Make “eye contact” by looking into the camera and alternate this with looking at the screen. Don’t eat or do anything distracting.
How to Make a Lasting Impression
To jump to the core of this: you want to make people feel seen, valued, and heard. When you are networking, especially at an event, be present. Be there. Don’t check your phone in the corner. Be in the room and bring all your attention to this moment.
When you’re talking with someone, whether, on zoom or in person, give them your attention. Have them feel like at that moment, they are the most important person you’ve met that day. Even if you aren’t certain that this person is a strategic connection, it’s important to treat each person you are choosing to connect with as a worthwhile connection.
Types of Networking and Effective Strategies for Each Context
Aside from proper zoom etiquette, the importance of career networking is also found in building valuable relationships with people you feel resonance with to help both of you meet your career goals and succeed. Still, consider that there are different types of networking. And each type is related to the context and the goals of the situation at hand. They are as follows along with some tips for success.
This is a key time for networking. Even if you’re someone who normally doesn’t like to network… you would be amiss not to network when job searching. So, let’s talk concretely about what we mean and what these strategies look like. Basically, this is the time when you need to consider all the people you know personally and professionally to help you get a job. As mentioned earlier in this handout, as you progress in your career, the chance of obtaining your job through networking increases. To the point where leaders in companies use networking as their primary means of obtaining their next role.
Here are some concrete tips:
- The most basic way you network when job searching is of course looking on LinkedIn at each company you are applying to in order to see if you already know someone who works there or if you have a contact that knows someone who works there. When you do discover connections, you can reach out to them to learn more, get tips, or even have them send your resume directly to the hiring manager with a recommendation.
- In addition, go through your connections in your Contacts, LinkedIn, and FB. Sort them into different buckets based on your relationship with them, who they are, and how you might approach them. Some contacts you may know very well, some contacts are acquaintances, some are family friends, some you met at a conference, and so on. Some contacts are really well connected, some are senior to you and more like mentors, and some are dear friends. As a result, some people you may want to ask to go for lunch or tea, others a phone call, and others you may find it appropriate to simply send out an email. You may want to write a template email for reaching out to people.
- Let’s take a moment to recall why we network. Networking is a win-win. When you reach out to someone you are strengthening that connection. They may help you but you can also offer to help them. Networking is one of the most productive ways to get a job. And as you consider what your ask is of them also always be thinking about how you can help them. You can even go as far as to say to them or include in your email: Please let me know if you can think of any way I can help you.
- You have to use good judgment when it comes to how you reach out and what you ask for. In some cases, it might be good to simply reach out and reconnect. See how that person is doing. Catch up. Then at some point, you can let them know how you are doing and that you are job searching. In other situations, it may be appropriate to be very clear about why you are reaching out.
- Remember that when you do reach out, the more specific you can be the better. You should let the person know, if appropriate: that you are job searching and share with them what role you are looking for, what industry, and other details that are important. The more someone can know, the more likely they can help you. Don’t expect someone in your network to help you figure this out or have to work hard to help you.
- When you reach out consider asking them for something. You might share the above info and then ask: could you take a moment and consider if there’s anyone in your network that you think I should speak to? Or, are there any roles or opportunities that you’ve recently heard of that you can share with me? Or, any specific suggestions you may have? The reason for asking something specific is that it causes the person to pause and consider what you’re asking. If you simply say: let me know if you hear of anything…. a vague request such as that makes it easy to unintentionally forget about your message.
- Whenever you reach out to someone for networking you want to think in terms of how you can help them as well. If you are uncertain or cannot find that angle, be sure to say to them: Please let me know if there’s any way that I can help you. I am happy to help and glad we have this connection together.
- (This is not for everyone, but if you can weave some of this in…) See if there are meetups or other social situations that maybe be related to industries of interest. Look to see if there are conventions in your space. (If yes, even if you can’t attend, there may be helpful info on the convention website. You may see companies you didn’t know about or thought leaders in the space.) Look to see if there are accelerators or incubators for this space. If there are, see if they have meetups or pitch nights you could attend. Some of these events can even be done remotely.
If you haven’t already, give parts 1 and 2 a read! If you also enjoyed part 3 which discussed topics such as proper zoom etiquette, join us in our next blog post, the final part of our series. Part 4 will be on the importance of career networking, where will we share our suggestions for ongoing networking to improve your career and best practices for networking at conferences.