Like lots of things, networking has largely moved online. It might seem like a struggle connecting to people with the move to working remotely and few events to meet professionals in. But have no fear, we have a list of top ten tips on how to maximise your virtual networking skills and the chances of hearing back from industry experts…
1. Be considerate of who you contact
These are strange times for everybody right now. Unfortunately, the creative industries are currently facing a lot of difficulty and many people aren’t working. Be mindful of this when reaching out. It’s a good idea to check how people are doing on platforms such as LinkedIn or their social media before you approach them.
2. Spruce up your LinkedIn
While we’re on LinkedIn, now is the time to finally make yours the best it can be. It’s a fantastic platform to make a strong first impression and connect with other creatives in your industry. Whether it’s taking a proper headshot or completing a skill quiz to prove your talents, there’s lots of ways to boost your profile.
Don’t be shy sending an invitation to peers and industry professionals you admire, connecting is what LinkedIn is for. You can even include a message with your invitation to explain why you’re reaching out.
3. Tweet to your advantage
Twitter is also a great way of making connections as lots of creative professionals are on there. You can build your network by following people relevant to your interests and career. Twitter lists are also a handy way of keeping track of everyone you want to engage with. Having a professional and easy username to remember also ensures people can find you too.
4. Join and create groups
On social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, creating groups of likeminded peers to engage with can be useful and inspiring. Here, you can give each other tips and advice, brainstorm ideas together and even create new projects. Some of our CA interns and alumni have recently come together to create Cultrd Collective and other new initiatives include #VirtualCollaborators.
5. Attend virtual masterclasses
Online masterclasses are a fantastic way to gain invaluable knowledge from the comfort of your home. These sessions often have a chat feature and a Q&A, where you can connect with fellow attendees and engage with experts. Creative Access are holding a series of Thursday Thoughts; inspirational talks with leading figures from the creative industries. We are also hosting weekly Wednesday Workshops which are interactive employability sessions focused on staying job-ready throughout this current situation.
6. Follow up after online events
If you enjoyed a virtual session, it’s a good idea to send a follow up email or feedback letting them know. You can even shout out an organisation in your social media to share your thoughts. This way you can leave a lasting impression for any future opportunities and demonstrate engagement in an industry you’re passionate about.
7. Get involved in competitions and schemes
Lots of projects that showcase and discover talent have moved online. Getting involved in things like writing, acting or art competitions and callouts are a brilliant way of getting your work out there. Judges also tend to be experienced professionals in their field, submitting a piece can help introduce your work to them as well as giving you the opportunity to ask for advice and feedback.
8. Keep messages short and sweet
Keep messages concise and genuine when reaching out. Long bodies of texts in emails can immediately turn someone off from reading what you have to say. When contacting someone whose work you admire, mention what you like. Demonstrate your interest in their work before asking for a (virtual) coffee or chat.
9. Contact people early
When sending an email, it’s best to send one early so it doesn’t get buried underneath the other messages that come through throughout the day. With most people working at home, inboxes are especially busy right now. Sending an email before the working day starts could ensure your message sits at the top of the pile when people clock on, increasing your chances of receiving an answer.
10. Start an online portfolio
Now is a great time to set up an online blog or portfolio showcasing your talents. When reaching out to people, you can direct them to your work, instantly giving them an impression of your skills. Take the time to make your website look professional and well put-together.
Useful websites include WordPress, where you can set up a blog for free; Wix, which lets you build free websites and has lots of great templates to choose from; and YouTube for sharing films and video content.
Bonus tip: Be pro-active
None of the above will be possible unless you take initiative in finding opportunities to connect. Networking can certainly feel daunting at times, especially when contacting someone we’ve never even met. However, we only regret the chances we don’t take. You might be surprised at how far sending an email or message can take you. The only way to find out is to try. Good luck and keep us posted.