Job Hunt

Expert Tips on How to Network Virtually and In-Person

Monday Girl Co-Founder Istiana Bestari
July 26, 2023

With almost all of The Chang School’s courses and certificates offered fully online, traditional networking opportunities like informal chats in between breaks and before or after class aren’t always available. However, Istiana Bestari, Co-Founder of the networking and career platform Monday Girl, says that doesn’t have to stop learners from networking.

The Chang School recently spoke with Istiana and asked her for advice on how to network virtually and in-person (when possible) when you’re in a remote learning environment.

The Chang School: What is some advice you have for continuous learners to network?

Istiana Bestari: People often underestimate the power and reach of their own current networks. Everyone you know has a network of their own, so I always recommend starting with reconnecting with your colleagues, friends and family, acquaintances from sports teams, and alumni. Ask them if they know anyone they could introduce or refer you to in the field you’re interested in. Having that warm lead is an easier way to build more connections than relying on cold reach outs.

Also, don’t forget to network both laterally and up. Nourish the peer relationships you have around you as you each grow in your careers together – more often than not, your peers can open doors for you in the future, not just the people who are several years ahead.

CS:What role can LinkedIn play in networking virtually?

IB: Most hiring managers and recruiters look at your LinkedIn profile both to find suitable candidates and also as an indicator of what you are like as a professional, so it’s important to keep your profile an updated representation of your best foot forward.

LinkedIn is a great place to research and find new people to connect with and networking on the platform is an expected practice, so don’t be afraid to reach out. You can find a ton of helpful information to help you start conversations and ask the right questions just by researching someone’s profile, posts they’ve made, conversations they’re part of, and projects they’ve worked on.

LinkedIn Premium is great when you're really focused on outreach but not super necessary if you really tap into your existing network and focus on getting warm introductions. I've used it in seasons like during a time when we were reaching out to speakers for an opportunity.

In addition to reaching out to new connections, it’s an easy platform to help you maintain your relationships just by engaging with your network’s posts, supporting their wins, and keeping yourself top of mind.

CS: Can virtual networking replace in-person? Why or why not?

IB:I think networking virtually is best for finding connections and starting new relationships as a first step as well as maintaining relationships over time. This includes checking in on them and engaging with their content on social media. However, if possible, in-person networking can be an opportunity to build deeper connections and take conversations further.

As humans, I don’t think anything can replace in-person interactions. You can build more trust with connections through things like eye contact and asking interesting questions while listening with undivided attention, which goes a long way. I find in-person conversations can help solidify a connection so networking both online and off is key to networking success.

CS:What role can mentoring play in networking virtually?

IB: Mentorship is one of the best ways to build your network and here are two ways for a mentee to maximize your connection:

  • Check in regularly with your mentor: Share updates on your career progress, goals, wins and challenges. Have you tried implementing any of their feedback or advice? Mentors are often invested in your growth and want to hear about your journey and help you as you grow. They’re also likely to share your wins or talk about you with a sense of pride if you do this. This also is a sign you can potentially transition your mentorship into a sponsorship.
  • Ask for referrals and introductions: Mentors, especially if they are a few steps ahead of you often have connections, would be happy to introduce you to in addition to offering you advice or guidance. Don’t hesitate to ask and focus on building a strong, on-going relationship with them.

Even in an online learning environment, there are still many ways to build your network. Instructors can help make introductions and provide useful information about the industry you’re working in. Every term, The Chang School also offers in-person and online networking events for prospective and current learners as well as alumni, and our learners also have access to the Toronto Metropolitan University community.

Whether you’re a Chang School learner or are thinking about enrolling in a course or registering for a certificate with us, we’re here to help. We offer academic and career advice and you can book a one-on-one session with our academic advisor or career education specialist to help you find the path to reach your goals.

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