5 Ways You Can Upgrade Your Networking Game Without Leaving Your House

Professional networking is always intimating. Throw in a global pandemic and networking gets even more daunting. Despite the pandemic and tough job market, building a professional network is still essential in laying the foundation for a successful career. So, how do you build a professional network in an uncertain job market? After graduating from college last May, I spent months scheduling informational phone calls with college alumni, family friends, and even a few strangers, all from the comfort of my bedroom. 

Whether you’re applying for an internship, looking for your first job post-grad, or making a career change, having a professional network will improve your chances of finding work. Here are five tips for building that network from the comfort of your own home, in order to land your dream job. 

  1. 1. Research, research, research

    woman working from home on laptop

    We’ve heard the saying "it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” a million times when it comes to landing a job. But what if you don’t know who you need to know? Start with the people you admire.

    Fairley Lloyd, Associate Writer at nCino, Inc and Her Campus alumni, researches writers who work for her favorite magazines on LinkedIn. “I found people who wrote for them and had similar interests to me and shot them a connection request and a short message asking them about their career,” Fairley says. Similarly, whenever I listen to a great podcast or read an article I enjoy, I look up the writer and send them a message.

    Don’t know how to start a conversation? Begin by introducing yourself and sharing your interest in a contacts career. Keep the message short and sweet! End each message by asking if the contact is open for a quick 15-minute conversation. These small communications can lead to job opportunities in the future.

  2. 2. Use LinkedIn to your advantage

    Woman with curly hair waving and saying hi to someone through her laptop.

    LinkedIn is essential to the remote job hunt. According to Carson Kohler at TopResume, LinkedIn hosts more than 600 million professional profiles. That’s right, 600 million professionals can help you get a job. Chances are, the HR manager you want to contact, or the college alumni who work in your field, will be on LinkedIn. LinkedIn also hosts different groups you can join, from universities to organizations (hi, Her Campus Alumni Group!).

    To begin building a network, look up your university page on LinkedIn and start sending requests to alumni you admire. LinkedIn also has networking groups targeted for young professionals. Trying joining Project Get Hired, Digital Marketing, NetParty, and Social Media Marketing

    According to Debra Rodenbaugh-Schaub, a career consultant for Kansas University, LinkedIn is also a great way to improve your "online visibility." Consider LinkedIn the Facebook of job hunting. Set up a profile you want hiring managers to see, and don’t hesitate to use the platform to expand your professional connections.

  3. 3. Master the art of the cold email 

    women with mug and laptop

    There have been numerous occasions on my networking journey where I’ve scheduled a call with a professional with whom I had no connection. That’s right, no family friends in common and no university connection, just me and admiration for their career. While networking from home, it’s important to take risks by sending a cold email and asking for an informational phone call. Mollie Guerrero, Influencer Marketer, and Community Coordinator at Her Campus, cold emails professionals who work in a role she’d like to apply to in the future. “Send them a message and express your interest,” Mollie says. 

    It’s important to keep your message brief, and tailored to the specific person. Lara Von Linsowe-Wilson, Influencer Marketing and Community Manager at Her Campus Media recommend starting small. “We’re all experiencing a bit of digital fatigue right now,” Lara says, “but at the same time, we’re all still searching for ways to stay connected. Think of it like speed dating or how you might meet someone at an in-person event — keep things light and quick.” When it comes to digital networking, playing the long game is essential. Start with a quick 15-minute phone call, and build your connection from there.

  4. 4. Keep your contacts updated 

    You sent the cold email, completed the informational phone call … now what? You have a connection, and now it’s time to nurture that relationship. Read something on the news that may interest your contact? Send it to them! Do something cool professionally? Drop them an email or post it on your LinkedIn. If it feels right, schedule a regular check-in with your professional contact. All of these experiences will strengthen your professional relationship. Meanwhile, monitor their company's page. If you navigate the relationship right, you can ask your contact for a job referral.

  5. 5. Treat rejection as an opportunity

    woman working on her laptop at desk, with notebooks, flowers, and coffee on desk

    Job rejections can be soul-crushing, but they can also be an opportunity. Career coach and TikToker Jonathan Javier turned his job rejection at Goldman Sachs into an interview after requesting to apply to another position within the company. “Always ask for help, that's how I got it,” he says. 

    After seeing Jonathan’s TikTok I was floored, and more than a little inspired to try it myself. When I was rejected from a job after the second round of interviews, I requested feedback and then asked the hiring manager to put me in touch with a sister company that aligned closer to my professional goals. Any professional interaction you have, whether it’s a casual conversation with a family friend or a job rejection, could result in another career connection. 

Networking may have changed with the pandemic, but it’s still all about establishing authentic relationships. Just be you, and with a little luck and consistent wifi, you’ll be one step closer to your dream career.