I’ve got good news, bad news, and some fairly obvious news.
Let’s start with the obvious: Networking can be exhausting!
Moving on to the not-so-great: You still need to do it.
Finally, the good: Below, you’ll find some totally manageable tips for keeping your digital networking game in tip-top shape. Hooray!
Digital Networking Tip #1: Keep things current
Make sure your profile is complete and up to date, and don’t be shy about including extracurriculars when relevant.
The more detail you include—your alma mater, professional associations, volunteer experience, publications, or a cause you’re passionate about—the more opportunities you’ll have to connect with people who share your interest or experience.
Digital Networking Tip #2: Don’t take the easy way out
Just because certain platforms offer boilerplate messages for requesting connections or sharing articles doesn’t mean that you should use them! If you do, your best intentions may be misunderstood and your attempt to connect may come off as insincere.
Always take the time to craft something original and well thought-out that specifically speaks to why you’re sending the message.
Digital Networking Tip #3: Cover your bases before you connect
Once you find somebody that may serve as a valuable contact, make sure you know your stuff before reaching out. Whether it’s a college friend with whom you haven’t spoken in decades, a friend of a friend, or a thought leader in your field, do your research before you send that first message.
Here are some things that you should know before you connect:
- Contact's official title at organization.
- How long has she been at her organization?
- What was her role before this one? And before that?
- Do you have any connections in common?
- Does she have any notable publications or has she perhaps been mentioned in the news lately?
You never know when you may be taken up on your invitation to connect, so you’ll want to be ready with some background information to get the conversation started.
Digital Networking Tip #4: Set a goal
The best way to ease into a new networking habit is to set an achievable goal.
While you’re on the hunt, commit to connecting with one new person a week. If you’re not currently searching for a job, continue to keep your contacts fresh and relevant by reaching out to one former colleague or one new potential contact each month.
Digital Networking Tip #5: Give people a reason to reach out to you, first
A lot of digital networking platforms offer you the opportunity to share your opinion, engage with posts shared by others, or promote your own original content. Take this chance to hone your voice, provide something of value to your network in the way of resources or op-ed style posts, and support others who are creating content on a regular basis. By proudly featuring resources and content, and freely offering feedback and comments, you’re giving your network plenty of reasons to reach out to you for more.
Digital Networking Tip #6: Don’t ask for anything (right away)
Of course, the ideal networking situation is making a connection simply to show your gratitude for your contact's work or to offer them a useful resource that they may not already be familiar with.
In working to keep in touch with your network, the goal should be to lay the groundwork for any future opportunities that may come up, as well as to demonstrate to your connections that you’re a willing and able connector. The last thing you want is to become known as the contact who only reaches out for favors, recommendations, and the like.
Digital Networking Tip #7: Don’t let existing platforms limit the impression that you make
You may find that platforms for online and social networking limit the information that you’re able to share, or don’t effectively highlight the areas where you really shine. Take things into your own hands and create a simple website or digital portfolio to better showcase your work, credentials, personal interests, writing chops, recommendations, or anything else that you’re proud of.
Discover more networking tips and tools
Discover more tips for networking, both digital and in-person, here.
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As the senior editor of Idealist Careers and a lifelong nonprofit professional, Alexis offers job seekers, game changers, and do gooders actionable tips, career resources, and social-impact advice.