You’re searching for your best next professional step—a role that leverages your strengths, with an organisation that you believe in, where you can work toward a fulfilling purpose.
Though the career journey is often filled with doubt, when you meet the right person at the just the right moment, everything clicks into place. Honing your digital networking skills increases your odds of finding that person so you can take that career step you’ve been dreaming of.
Think of the moment when you’ll meet your next manager. They need your skills, energy, and passion. They are looking for you to fill a gap in their team!
The question is, how can you find them?
During the pandemic, digital relationship-building suddenly became more important than ever before.
If you’re used to handshakes, eye-contact, and in-person interviews, the screen in front of you might feel like a wall preventing you from meeting the right people. I wrote this article to change that for you.
As a coach and entrepreneur living in a foreign country, I’ve built an international client base almost completely from behind the screen. In 2020, I met my now business partner on a Zoom call, and during the pandemic we created Spirit Drivers Mastermind, which helps people build spirit-driven lives and careers. A core component of Spirit Drivers is being connecting to a powerful network of like-minds who want to support each other.
Meeting people online works, and it’s an essential skill for your career growth.
In fact 60 percent of jobs are found through networking, rather than on job sites. Also good to know: a study found that 122 million people have received an interview through LinkedIn, and 35.5 million were hired by a person they connected with on the platform.
Don’t use the pandemic as an excuse to stall your career growth, and stay in an unfulfilling position. Use this opportunity to grow your digital networking skills, which will serve you not only for your next job, but for future career shifts, as well.
When you adopt the practical tips below, you’ll be on your way to meeting the right people, and creating your purpose-filled career—and you’ll have a lot more fun doing it!
Adopt your success mindset
Before you touch your keyboard, check out your mindset around digital relationship-building.
What are the stories you tell yourself about growing your network online? What are your beliefs about the topic?
Take out a sheet of paper and write down your thoughts.
- Do you have a story that it’s impossible to build authentic relationships?
- Is it uncomfortable for you to reach out to people?
- Does it feel unnatural?
- Do you have a previous experience that people don’t respond positively to you?
- Do you think you don’t have time for networking?
- Do you doubt your dream job even exists?
Get it all out.
Done? Great. You’ve identified your current mindset!
Now, does your mindset serve your professional goals? If not, it’s time to work on changing it.
Here’s your next step.
One at a time, cross out each limiting story, thought, or belief, and write an empowering one. Here’s an example:
It’s impossible to build real relationships on LinkedIn> I have the possibility of building authentic relationships on LinkedIn that lead me to my career goals. I don’t have the right experience for my dream job.> I can build the skills I need for my next role and have fun along the way. I don’t have time for networking.> I create time for the activities that drive me to achieve my goals.
These new beliefs make up your success mindset.
Don’t skip this step! Your beliefs are the foundation of your feelings and behaviors.
They are the script that run your life. If you have a set of beliefs that disempower your goal, you’re less likely to achieve it. The good news is, you can change your beliefs through awareness and practice. Write down your new beliefs every day before you start your work, repeat them to yourself, record yourself saying them and listen to the recording. Re-program your mind, reprogram your beliefs, and you can change everything.
Know your strengths, skills, and purpose
Low self-confidence is a big fat stop sign that prevents you from reaching out to people. On top of that, when you want something from someone, you’re afraid of coming across as desperate or needy.
You might be asking yourself, “what value can I bring?” “Why would this person want to talk to me?”
People are attracted to those who confidently stand in their power. Think about it, would you rather hire Tigger or Eeyore?
When you go into a conversation with clarity about who you are and the natural value you bring, you stand out as someone people want to work with.
Before you enter approach someone new, or re-enter into a conversation to cultivate a digital connection you’ve made, connect with your top 5 strengths and values. Remember your sense of purpose. Ask yourself, “what positive difference can I make for the person I’m about to connect with?”
It helps to take a few minutes to write these things down. Boost yourself up. Be your own biggest cheerleader. You have a lot to offer. Don’t hold it back!
If you don’t know your strengths, values, or purpose, download “The Professional Purpose Guide” here, with 4 steps to uncover your professional purpose. It will help you get clear.
Find commonality with the people in your digital network
This is an easy one! Start your connection with what you have in common, and build your relationship from there.
- Make a list of people in your target industry who went to the same university as you.
- Reach out to people in common interest groups on LinkedIn.
- Identify people who were in your role and made a similar career jump that you aim for.
- Get an introduction from someone in common that you know.
The interests and experiences you share with others provide an easy way to get conversation going, and get to know the other person better. Plus, people in shared communities love helping each other out.
Here’s an example message that you can use:
“Hi ___________, great to be connected! I notice we both went to ___________ university, and I’m interested to hear how you got from there to your current role. I know this is a big ask, but I’d like to make a similar career jump, and I’d appreciate any advice or connections you have to share.”
Show yourself and showcase your skills
It’s time to open your digital kimono.
Did you know that only about 1-2% of LinkedIn users share content on a weekly basis?! Yet your personal brand will help you stand out and attract the right people to you, including recruiters and others in your target industry. Use the platform to show your personality, what it will be like to work with you, and to creatively showcase your skills.
Create content that helps people in your target solve their problems.
Share your insights on industry issues.
Be an advocate for the people you want to serve in your next role.
In addition to sharing your credentials and accolades, be an active contributor in the industry you want to work in.
Reach out proactively and persistently
According to career experts like Andrew MacAskill, if you’re actively seeking a new role, you should grow your network by 50 people each week in your target market.
Now, you might be thinking, “how could I possibly maintain 50 new quality relationships per week?!” Well, you can’t. But realistically many people will not respond you, or you won’t feel the spark of connection with them. That’s okay! The purpose of growing your network at such a rate is to increase your chance of meeting the right person at the right time.
Don’t be shy! Reach out with genuine interest in the other person, and be present for them. If you don’t get a response right away, no sweat. It’s nothing personal.
Building relationships take patience. If there’s someone in particular you’d like to get to know better, you might have to try a few different routes to get in the door and understand how you can be valuable for them. Keep showing up with friendly and helpful energy.
Be open and honest about what you’re looking for, and seek to create a relationship in which all parties win.
How can you help each other? Where are the opportunities for synergy? The process of creating great partnerships first requires understanding the other’s needs, and then clearly communicating your own. Once you understand the goals and needs of the other person, you’ll be well positioned to present how your side of the deal will benefit them.
Going into a new connection with a partnership mindset shifts your energy from the beginning. You’re not going in as someone who needs something. Instead, you’re presenting yourself as an equal partner who is actively willing to help create solutions to relevant problems.
Take it to a call (or to the streets!)
I’ve met amazing people during this pandemic—clients, partners, and friends. Many of these relationships started with a simple LinkedIn message, and grew into calls and face-to-face meetings.
When you feel a spark with someone, take the opportunity to nurture the connection. Offer a 15-minute Zoom coffee or take a walk together to enjoy the connection and see how you can best help each other. You never know where this blossoming relationship might take you. Stay open to possibilities.
What’s your experience with digital networking?
If you’ve felt blocked by the screen in front of you, I hope these tips help. Or maybe you have additional tips to share. What has worked for you as you grow your digital network?
If you’re looking for purpose-driven people who are excited to help you take your next professional step, check out the Spirit Drivers Mastermind. You can join for a free trial month, which includes an expert session on a leadership topic, and three Mastermind calls to build incredibly authentic connections.