How to build your network virtually

JodieAdvice, Final Year, First Year, Graduates, Postgraduate, Second Year

A woman sitting on a settee with a laptop on her lap. She's smiling at something on her phone.

Networking is one of those things that can either fill you with enthusiasm or a feeling of quiet horror – it can be even harder to network at the moment as most of our interactions are taking place in a virtual environment, which might also impact the way you feel about it. However, it’s still important you dedicate some time to widening your connections as you’ll be more likely to hear about opportunities that way. Today we thought we’d lend you a helping hand by sharing some ways you can continue to build your network virtually.

Focus on existing relationships

Networking doesn’t have to mean speaking to loads of strangers – the people who are already in your life may be able to help you achieve your goal. It’ll be less daunting to reach out to these groups of people too, which will hopefully help build your confidence!

Start off by getting in touch with your friends, family, society/club members, those you’ve worked with and people you know in your local community – especially those who are interested in/working in your preferred field. If they can’t help you, they may know someone who can which will help expand your network.

Get in touch with alumni

Hundreds of thousands of students have graduated from Aston over the years – and all of them were once in your shoes! You can use LinkedIn to search for people who’ve studied at Aston University and reach out to them to see if anyone would be happy to chat to you about their experiences.

The Aston Alumni team can also help link you up with relevant graduates. They have a Professional Alumni Link Platform which enables you to gain practical advice and career insight from alumni.

Make LinkedIn your friend

Speaking of LinkedIn, this is a great tool to use when expanding your network. If you haven’t already, create a profile and make it as professional as possible – this means detailing all your previous work experience and skills, uploading a good quality photo of yourself and using keywords in your profile which will make it easier for recruiters to find you.

The work doesn’t stop there though – actively engage with the site by joining relevant groups, connecting with people you know, sharing appropriate posts and commenting on other people’s content. You can also use the messaging function to reach out privately to individuals to see if they’d be willing to have a chat with you.

Attend virtual events

So many organisations are running their events and conferences online now (some of which may incorporate networking opportunities as part of them), which means there are still plenty of opportunities for you to get valuable industry insights and meet new people.

Check the events calendar on Aston Futures to see what’s coming up and follow the social media accounts of companies you’re interested in working with or join their mailing lists to keep in the loop with any events they’ve got planned. You can also do a Google search to see if there are any relevant events that are coming up locally or in your chosen field.

Bright Network also run a variety of networking events throughout the year which may be helpful.

Book 1-to-1 meetings

Once you’ve found some people who would be willing to give you some advice or chat to you about their experiences, make sure to arrange a video meeting to deepen the connection.

It doesn’t have to be too formal either – remember how we could just go out for a coffee with people pre-pandemic? Why not replicate that in a virtual setting? You could both bring along your favourite hot beverage to replicate that café vibe.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels