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Published on November 26, 2020

9 Tips on How To Network the Right Way

9 Tips on How To Network the Right Way
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We’ve all heard the phrase “it’s all about who you know” in regards to landing a job. This really isn’t an exaggeration when it comes to the job market. Having the right connection can make all the difference between “you’re hired” and chirping crickets.

Studies suggest that 70 percent of jobs are never advertised on job classifieds and 80 percent of positions are filled because somebody knew somebody.[1] That’s right, a connection is paramount if you want to get your foot in the door and secure that dream job you’ve had your eye on.

When it comes to making those connections and learning about the unannounced job roles, networking is the key to the castle. Sure, credentials are still important, but if a person knows how to network the right way, they have an advantage that will be of serious benefit throughout their professional lives.

Before we jump into how to network the right way, it would be beneficial to spend a moment talking about what not to do. Avoid the mistake of only networking when you need a job. Reaching out to network only when you need something won’t help foster a genuine connection and gives off the stench of desperation. Networking should be about building mutually beneficial relationships, not self-serving ones.

Alright, let’s dive into how to go about developing a networking strategy that’s about more than collecting business cards and LinkedIn connects.

1. Make a List of Who You Already Know

There’s a real good chance that you already know a lot more people than you think. One of the best ways to network and expand your connections is by reconnecting with those you already know. Scroll through your social media feeds and jot down those folks that you maybe haven’t spoken to in a while.

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A few circles to consider:

  • Past jobs
  • Old friends from college
  • Church acquaintances
  • Hobby groups or sports league teammates

The idea here is to start with who you already know — particularly those that may be in or have connections to your career field. Even if it’s somebody that you haven’t spoken to in years, add them to the list. Casting a wide net is better than a single line here.

2. Reach Out to Those Established Connections

Now’s when you simply want to reach out to some of these connections. Something as simple as a quick email asking how they’ve been and what they’ve been up to is a great way to get started.

Blasting off an email or text to somebody you haven’t spoken to in six years might feel awkward, but don’t let that deter you. You should trust that they’ll probably enjoy hearing from you and catching up.

It’s not just about who you know, but who they know as well. Set aside your pride and ask if they know anybody in your related field they could introduce you to. Remember, the people you know are your allies when it comes to expanding your network and building new professional relationships.

3. Listen and Learn

Expanding and building a network of strong networking connections involves a mindset that’s focused on listening and learning.[2] Whether you’ve emailed a connection that an old work colleague gave you, or you’re making small talk with a stranger at a business conference, an eagerness to learn goes a long way. It shows you have a natural interest in the other person and what they do.

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If the person is working in the field that you’re trying to break into, now’s your time to come with a few questions regarding what their role looks like or any advice they might have regarding the field. You should be listening twice as much as you’re speaking.

4 Look for How You Can Be Useful

It’s easy to think of networking as a way of getting something for yourself, but that’s not the goal here. The goal is to build new relationships. It’s out of those that opportunities come along.

A good mindset to have in networking is to think about how you might be able to contribute or add value — without the expectation of something in return. It’s just this sort of mind flip that can make a big difference.

You may know somebody who is perfect for a role their company is looking to fill, but how you add value may not even be career-related. For example, perhaps during your conversation, they mention a love of biking and you know somebody who runs a cycling hobbyist group. Put that out there! It’s those sorts of interactions that lay the groundwork for building relationships.

5. Put Your Successes Out There

There’s a good possibility that at some point during networking, somebody is going to ask about what it is you do. This is your chance to share just what it is that’s so special about you, so be ready. Share what you’ve done in the past and why you’re passionate about your chosen field or the field you’d like to be in.

You’ll probably want to keep this relatively short, a few sentences or 90 seconds should suffice. If they want to know more, they’ll certainly ask.

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6. Expand Your Potential Networking Horizons

Scroll through your mental rolodex of people you know for a second. You probably know at least one person who is always doing something with one group or another, right? And this person probably knows everybody and their cousin, right? Well, there’s a good reason for that — they put themselves out there.

Networking mixers are fine, but they can also be counterproductive and feel more like business card trading events. Joining professional or civic groups can be a fantastic way of meeting new people, as can volunteering or various hobbyist groups.

Even if the event or group isn’t business-related, there’s still value in making and building upon new connections.

7. Don’t Just Scroll LinkedIn, Be Active

LinkedIn was built for networking, but a lot of us are probably guilty of not making the most of it. Not to worry, there’s an easy fix for this, it just means getting off your digital butt and getting active.

Rather than simply scrolling your feed, engage with the content you see. Like it, share it, comment on it — and add your own content. This could be an article you really enjoyed, a professional milestone, or simply an observation about an aspect of your industry.

You don’t need to get obsessive about engaging with a connection’s content on LinkedIn, but by regularly doing so, you’ll slowly build a familiarity with one another. Check out this article and learn how to network on LinkedIn: How to Network on LinkedIn (6 Dos and Don’ts)

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8. Follow up and Nurture Those Connections

People aren’t sitting around thinking about ways they can offer you a great job. You have to present the possibility for that to happen and this means staying in touch with networking connections.

If you recently met somebody at an event, through another contact or simply connected on LinkedIn, a good rule of thumb is to send an email or text a day or two later. It doesn’t need to be anything complicated, simply “enjoyed meeting you” or “thanks for the advice” will work.

Take the time to occasionally touch base and maintain this new connection, but be patient. Remember, networking the right way is about organically fostering a professional relationship.

9. Make Everyday Networking Part of Your Life

There’s no reason to wait for a big networking event, there are opportunities to network, build, and strengthen connections all the time.

Make it a goal for yourself to reach out to a few of those old LinkedIn contacts that you haven’t spoken to since you connected with them five years ago. Chat with your neighbors and the guy or gal who makes your morning cup of coffee. And do it over and over again.

Adopting the mindset of making everyday networking a part of your life will eventually make it feel like second nature!

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More Networking Tips

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU @soyhivan via unsplash.com

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Chris Porteous

The CEO of Grey Smoke Media / My SEO Sucks, helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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