As we slowly re-enter in-person spaces after more than a year of virtual life, it’s natural to be overwhelmed. Professional networking is no exception to the changing format, but doesn’t have to be added to your list of stressors. Here are some tips for making a smooth transition back into in-person networking:
- You don’t have to transition back completely to in-person networking in one fell swoop. As you connect with professionals for informational interviews, or even attend networking events, increase your comfort level by making a point to schedule a mix of in person and virtual networking opportunities.
- Remember the comfort levels of everyone involved. ‘Exiting’ COVID-19 means that the individuals in your network might have varying levels of comfort sitting down at a coffee shop or attending a traditional networking event at 100 Bay State. The easiest thing to do if you have uncertainty about a potential conversation partner’s desire to meet up in person is to ASK. Take into consideration your comfort level and that of whoever is going to be ‘across the table’. Finding a mutually comfortable set-up will make your networking as smooth as possible.
- Back to basics. Many of the key parts of a successful networking conversation will stay the same no matter the format. Keep in mind:
- Follow a professionally appropriate dress code.
- Maintain eye contact and interested body language.
- Arrive prepared with questions.
- Be present and prompt – be respectful of the time you’re asking of someone else.
- Write a thank you note!
- Keep your focus the same. Although a conversation or event may feel very different in person vs. via Zoom, remember that you do have the skills to network. Be authentic and confident in your ability to drive a conversation and learn something new.