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Networking – even when you are not in job-seeking mode – is critical to your career. Connecting to your field gives you access to new trends, input on how to address rough spots in your job and a sneak peek on upcoming opportunities.
It may feel like pandemic restrictions put a cramp in your ability to network. Here are four resources to help you stay connected. Remember, after making your interaction, connect on LinkedIn with a personal note reminding that important contact how they met you.
Update your LinkedIn and Twitter.
Make sure to update your profiles with professional topics and images. We’re not talking research papers here. And, don’t just share a linked article without some thoughtful commentary. Post content that relates to the industries and jobs you are pursuing so when a potential employer checks you out, they can easily see that you are a serious contender.
Then, engage with professionals in your field – comment, provide links to more information, ask follow-up questions. While a “congrats on your work anniversary” is easy, a real connection takes a little more work. I recently connected with a professional podcaster after commenting on a LinkedIn post. I’m exploring if he will be a resource for an upcoming project.
Find Professional Associations.
Professional Associations serve members --- you. Find an association that reflects your interests and growth potential. Here are a few with a presence in Philadelphia.
Despite its status as a national organization, the Digital Analytics Association has strong local ties with Philly pros. In addition to hosting a virtual career fair, DAA offers webinars, certifications, and informal talks. This group of hard-working folks is supportive and inviting to new members. Find their site and check them out on social media.
Having attended dozens of in-person Philly Ad Club events, I wasn’t sure the virtual space would measure up. I was pleasantly surprised when I attended a recent virtual event moderated by local Action News Journalist Karen Rogers and journalist/author Dan Harris. As a local organization, the Philly Ad Club gives you the opportunity to meet advertising, marketing, brand management, and public relations pros working in the region.
They’re not just Digital Communication professionals. Regional professional associations holding virtual events include the National Association of Social Workers, Institute of Management Accountants, and the American Association for Respiratory Care. Find the association that supports your role and attend some virtual events.
Join a Facebook Professional Group.
I know that you are thinking that Facebook is for 50-somethings and definitely not for professional networking. But, professional Facebook Groups have been instrumental in staying up-to-date with quick and convenient info snacks. I have found resources, answers to thorny problems, projects, and comradery with FB groups. What I really like is that the groups are discoverable
and you can quickly see the number of members and frequency of posts. I don’t join if there aren’t several posts a week – and I can lurk to gather information. To power up your networking, engage with questions and when members are seeking recommendations. Check out a FB Group of professionals like you. Groups are as diverse at careers: current FB groups include Nursing Life, Artificial Intelligence, and Forensic Criminology.
Download the Meet Up app.
Pre-pandemic, the Meet Up app-connected like-minded people for meet-ups in physical spaces. Now, it provides the platform for virtual meetings. I’ll be honest – the reviews are mixed. So sign up try out a few groups and see what fits. When you join Meet Up, you’ll provide some basic information: location, reason for joining, and interests to build relevant group recommendations. You can see the number of members and recent meetings and topics. I like this feature – meeting up about once a month fits my needs.
Margaret Rakus, Assistant Professor of Digital Communication at Gwynedd Mercy University, develops curriculum in the social and digital media space with a special focus on Digital & Social Media, Content Marketing, and Measurement. Following a career in publishing, public relations, and corporate communication, Margaret transitioned to higher education where she incorporates a variety of media and instructional strategies.