Networking is an essential part of building a successful career. It opens the door to opportunities that you may not find otherwise. Building relationships and having meaningful conversations helps you gain insight into different fields and forge connections that last.
As a student at ESEI, you may be starting to think about life after graduation. Beginning the networking process early will ensure that you are even more prepared to step into the world of work after finishing your studies.
But what happens now that in-person events are banned? How can you meet new people and expand your network?
While attending face-to-face networking events, exchanging business cards and going to conferences is currently off the table, there are other ways to network from the comfort of your home. Let’s take a look.
The most effective ways to network online
Here are our top 5 tips for successful online networking, including online events to attend and digital tools to use.
1. Attend online events
Online events offer great opportunities to connect with people and learn something new. ESEI is keen to support students in online networking. For instance, we frequently participate in digital events and job fairs.
For example, we take part in the annual job fair, JOBarcelona where our students can practice networking and establish connections with companies that offer jobs and internships. This year, JOBarcelona was held in October. ESEI’s Managing Director Carlota Estera presented a workshop there.
Also in October, ESEI partnered with Barcelona-based startup Spitche on its online digital marketing event Get Together. Our students had the chance to attend online talks, workshops and networking sessions. The presenters included experts and leaders from top companies like FC Barcelona, Chanel, and Novotel.
Startup Grind Barcelona is another fantastic event series for business professionals and students to network. It’s the world’s largest community of start-ups, founders, innovators, and creators. Above all, it aims to bring together like-minded individuals and offer opportunities for online networking with events and conferences. Pre-pandemic our students attended Startup Grind events together. Now, it’s online and tickets are free, so anyone can attend.
2. Join online communities
Online communities are a great way to meet new people and build your professional base. Groups on social media networks are the most common example. But which of these online communities are best to join?
The most well-known professional social network is LinkedIn. It offers the opportunity to create a profile with your studies, work experiences and skills: great for putting yourself out there. However, its capacity for online networking is often overlooked. The platform holds regular workshops and events which anyone can sign up to. Likewise, it allows users to join private LinkedIn groups for people in specific areas. For example, you may want to check out Entrepreneurs Network Barcelona or Barcelona Startups.
While Facebook is first and foremost a social networking site for connecting with friends, it also has specific groups that you can take advantage of for networking. In particular, Barcelona Startup for Entrepreneurs or Barcelona Entrepreneurs & Digital Nomads are great places to begin your networking journey.
Finally, there are industry-specific online communities out there with an emphasis on networking in your specific professional field. One example is the Slack community Online Geniuses which brings together SEO experts and digital marketers.
3. Update your profile and be active on LinkedIn
As we explained above, LinkedIn is an effective online community to be a part of. However, once you have a profile, you may want to optimise it to ensure you’re using it to its full networking potential.
Among more than 600 million LinkedIn users it’s easy to feel like a little fish in a big pond. For that reason, it’s imperative that you update your profile and make it stand out so that other professionals will notice you.
Make sure to follow this simple checklist:
- Choose a professional photo
- Write a compelling headline
- Choose your job description and summary
- Show your achievements
- Add experiences and languages
- Ask someone for a recommendation
- Post regularly and share unique experiences and insights
By doing this, you will attract new connections. This will allow you to start conversations and network with professionals in your field.
If you need further advice, ESEI can help you wrap your head around LinkedIn. We are sharing recordings of past online workshops that explain how to utilise the platform and help you build your brand. Check out Workshop 1 for networking and LinkedIn advice and Workshop 2 for personal branding tips, both led by Mustafa Toga. They are accessible to everyone and free.
4. Build an online following
If you’re struggling to find a network, why not bring people to you? Build your own following and network of like-minded individuals by creating your own website with a blog. Blogging is a fantastic tool for reaching out to an audience. Start by creating a plan for your ideas that you want to share, then write them up and post.
Keep the posts clear and concise and try to generate debate by asking readers to comment and offer their opinions. This will slowly create a pool of followers and a growing community. Make sure to engage with people, reply to comments and share posts with others. Consistency is key to succeeding with blogging and will help with your networking.
There are plenty of digital marketing tools that you can use to get your blog in front of the right audience. ESEI offers courses in digital marketing if you want to learn more about this.
5. Download a networking app
Nowadays, there are a growing number of apps that offer online networking opportunities. They provide an easy option for growing your professional circle. You can simply download them to your phone and network whenever you want.
Shapr is a networking app that’s rapidly growing in popularity. Marketing itself as the “Tinder for business relationships”, the app shows the user 15 relevant business professional profiles each day. You can either swipe right to accept if you think they’re a professional match, or swipe left to move on. Then, once you’ve connected, you can start a conversation and add these contacts to your network.
Another option is Invitly. Slightly more exclusive, this networking app is members-only. Therefore, it’s harder for spammers to infiltrate and much better for generating networking opportunities. Its ultimate aim is to ensure that only like-minded professionals can connect with each other. Additionally, it offers mentoring and training services to help with personal and professional development.
Check these options out and begin your networking journey today. If you want to become a part of the ESEI community, check out our programmes.