Switch up your networking goals amid the new normal says Chi Chi Okezie

It is safe to say that amid COVID-19, we are entering an unexpected new normal.  These challenging times pose many obstacles, as well as many opportunities.  Although you cannot gauge what lies ahead or forecast the future, you can take control of your career and professional destiny.  Networking is no different.  Restructuring, re-thinking and re-organizing your networking plan can be advantageous in the upcoming months.  Revisiting goals and reshaping a new mindset for advancement are critical for ongoing success.

Back to The Drawing Board

Sometimes, the best step is to start fresh.  Re-write, re-think or re-configure your networking goals.  A lot has changed in the past few months and it is imperative to position yourself in the right place.  Perhaps your objectives have changed.  Or you lost a job or an opportunity which caused you to have to pivot.  You may be looking for new ways of branding yourself by gaining more development and training.  Whichever is the case, have a clear aim and detailed goals for your new networking endeavors.

 Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How has my networking changed in the past few months?
  2. Which social platforms are useful for my networking goals?
  3. Are there any groups I can identify for support and resources?
  4. What type of events should I attend to build my connections?
  5. Who associated in my network can I partner with on this journey?

There are many advantages to starting from the beginning.  It gives you more clarity and a better understanding of past situations.  It can open your mindset to a new way of thinking.  It can afford you new opportunities. It allows you to use underutilized skills and talents.  Do not consider this a step back but a move in the right direction.

Regaining A New Perspective

In some cases, whilst sheltering in place or in quarantine, professionals have had a unique chance for reflection.  This is an undervalued and underutilized tool for gaining new perspectives and being innovative.  In these circumstances you can think of solutions to common problems, create safeguards to avoid unwanted situations or benchmark your past successes.  It is good to identify resources for advancement and take inventory of your strengths and weaknesses as well as prepare for the future to the best of your abilities.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Were there networking opportunities that were missed due to inadequate planning?
  2. What things can be done better to be more properly prepared?
  3. What resources were overlooked that can be used now?
  4. Is there anyone in my network who can provide additional guidance or counsel?
  5. How can I prepare for future networking opportunities?

Follow Through

A plan is only good if it is executed in a timely manner.  Do not procrastinate or put off your networking agenda.  Create a plan, have a timeline and identify resources to reach your intended goal.  Besides staying committed to your objectives, be open to change.

Following through with your plans can mean many things such as, but not limited to:

  1. Clearly writing your SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound) goals.
  2. Joining online groups with like-minded individuals to uphold ethics and values.
  3. Practicing networking skills to strengthen relationship building.
  4. Setting up periodic check-ups or internal evaluations.
  5. Documenting learning moments and successes.

This is a critical component in your networking journey.  Following through can be done in all stages of connecting with others and executing your mission.  It also allows you to build trust and confidence with individuals you meet and who are in your existing networks.  Make sure that your follow through is constant, succinct and reflects your personal brand.

Use these tips and techniques outlined above to harness your networking agenda.  Do not be afraid to start afresh with a new perspective for reaching a new outcome.  Rely on reflection, accountability and support from others to attain your desired goals.  Do not leave your networking to chance; be intentional about following through.  Always remain consistent and open minded to change especially when circumstances alter.

Chi Chi Okezie is the owner and producer of SIMPLEnetworking, LLC, a consulting firm based in Metro Atlanta, GA, USA which specializes in business networking, diversity and inclusion. Her company was granted a Proclamation for Business Networking Day by ... (Read More)

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