How to Grow Your Professional Network in the Digital-Only Era

With face-to-face meetings, physical events, and conferences suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are far fewer opportunities to meet other people and expand your professional network.

Of course, technology, especially video conferencing, has allowed marketers to keep in touch with colleagues and customers without having to have physical contact. There is no doubt that digital distortions and delays impair our ability to read non-verbal and social cues.

While it is perfectly possible to form a strong bond without being in the same room as the other person, we need to learn a new skill set to achieve great results through professional networking using online alternatives. The first stop is largely LinkedIn, but there are a growing number of other digital opportunities that can be just as effective in connecting with like-minded people, sharing knowledge, and showing off their skills and experiences.

The pros and cons of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the largest professional networking site in the world, but it is not always the best place to make meaningful professional connections. According to a recent survey, many LinkedIn professionals believe that few of their connections are really useful.

LinkedIn has evolved since its debut in 2002. Today, like other social media sites, LinkedIn’s algorithms determine what users see, often resulting in a flow dominated by sponsored content, humble posts, and their posts.

Online profiles and portfolio sites

It’s easy to forget that a potential connection could just put your name on a search engine and see what comes up before they decide to start a discussion with you. There is a big difference between the way we present ourselves professionally and the way we behave with our good friends on the Internet.

If you really want to make an impact, a portfolio site like Muck Rack for content marketers, Behance for creative designers and marketing consultants, or about. I can provide a space to bring together all the projects you’ve worked on. If you contributed to industry websites or spoke at an event, include these links to show your skills and experience in each area.

Groups, meetings, and virtual events

Until March 2020, meetings, events and conferences provided many opportunities to build professional networks. Since then, video conferencing platforms like Zoom, collaboration tools like Slack, and consumer messaging apps like WhatsApp have grown exponentially as professionals look for new ways to stay connected.

If you don’t like video conferencing options, the professional network with private messaging groups is a trend that is gaining momentum as physical meetings remain difficult. While it may be difficult to be accepted into these groups, it is worth keeping an eye on invitations and contacting those who are already members to see if they can introduce you. And if you can’t find one, you can get in touch with influencers to create your group.

Questions and answers on forums, communities, and websites

Forums, communities, and question-and-answer sites are great places to share knowledge and get advice, and they also provide networking in a more meaningful way, as members don’t have to shout out loud or use algorithms to win.

Free the niche.

Each sector had a different experience during the pandemic and therefore it can be extremely useful to find network groups around a specific sector or challenge. They can be groups that focus on diversity or best practices in their sector; groups for a specific level of seniorities, such as marketing leaders or marketing professionals working in FTSE 100 companies; or even agency owners.

Whether you decide to network by industry, seniority, or specialization, socializing with like-minded people, with whom you have good fellowship, is always beneficial.