Networking is 'very key' to building your brand, says CEO: Here are 3 smart ways to do it from home

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Even though stay-at-home orders have halted in-person networking events, you can still build professional relationships remotely. And experts say that's smart.

"Networking is always going to be a very key part of developing your personal and professional brand and making sure that you're creating opportunities for yourself," says Angelina Darrisaw, a career coach and founder and CEO of C-Suite Coach based in Brooklyn, New York. 

It's important to keep nurturing and strengthening professional relationships even while social distancing. "When this is all over, we're going to meet our networks for re-entry [to] new opportunities that we might be seeking professionally and personally," Darrisaw says. "We want to make sure that those relationships continue to get built during this time."

Here are three ways to maintain and grow your network while social distancing.

1. Send handwritten notes

Though communicating via email or social media messages is the norm in the professional world, sending a handwritten note can help solidify a bond. It's a thoughtful gesture that can demonstrate professional respect distinguish you from your peers, just as a thank you note can help you stand out after a job interview. 

"Throughout the entire job search process, your main goal should be differentiation, and interviewing is no different," career strategist Jena Viviano told Grow earlier this year. "So, in this digital age, taking the time to pick out a card, write a thoughtful message, and send it in the mail sets you apart from your competition."

Darrisaw agrees: "Send handwritten cards to people in your network," she says. "Let them know that you're thinking about them."

How to continue networking while social distancing

2. Check in with your network

When reaching out to people in your network, conversations don't have to be limited to professional topics. Checking in on a human level to ensure the well-being of the people in your circle is important as well.

"Think about doing check-ins over email, or by picking up the phone and calling people in your network," Darrisaw says. "And when you're doing those check-ins, it is really important to be thinking about where they are in this crisis, how are they handling things. You might want to ask them how they're caring for themselves."

Darrisaw, who says exercise is important to her, notes that people in her network have suggested online workouts as a way to connect and maintain relationships. 

Make sure to "think about the hobbies and the interests of the people who are in your network and be creative about what value you can offer them," she says. 

3. Take advantage of virtual networking events

Don't skip opportunities to mingle and catch up with colleagues and peers.

"I've seen virtual happy hours popping up, as well as Instagram Live sessions and webinars," says Darrisaw. "Use those as opportunities not just to be on the viewing end, but also to contribute and build new relationships during this time."

Networking is always going to be a very key part of developing your personal and professional brand and making sure that you're creating opportunities for yourself.
Angelina Darrisaw
career coach, founder and CEO of C-Suite Coach

Use LinkedIn's Groups feature to find new connections in your industry. You can search for existing groups, or create new ones for professionals in your field.

With the possibility of new opportunities once the economy reopens, now is the time to build up your credentials. 

Even if you have to maintain our physical distance from your peers and contacts, "there are still tools and methods that are out there that can help you strengthen and build new relationships," says Darrisaw.

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