For many students and employees today, networking events are frequently advertised to aid individuals with building a professional network of contacts. While most were typically held in person, the pandemic forced many such events to a virtual environment, changing how schools and organizations would be able operate them while keeping them engaging.
According to Indeed, networking can help make the introduction to new connections, like future clients, make you a resource for someone in your network and vice versa, and provide aid during the job search. Networking allows you access to connect with individuals in your field, or form a connection to a company you wish to apply to. Often, I contact the people in my network to maintain a good relationship with my connections. In fact, most events I’ve attended, and the people I connected with as a result, were due to relationships I made.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see the appeal and benefit of these particular events. However, networking is somewhat harder when there is a lack of face-to-face communication. With that said, I have begun to notice several aspects that make said events particularly engaging for those in attendance.
For starters, virtual networking helped me reach out and connect with more people I would have otherwise been unable to meet. Most people and recruiters I’ve met and connected with from these online events were based in California. Since everything was remote, I had the opportunity to talk and learn from people I likely never would have met. This was especially helpful as these connections were in fields I was interested in and had advice I could utilize.
Secondly, attending these remote events helped with my comfortability level. While visiting professional events, whether online or in person, it’s easy to feel uncomfortable, especially when you don’t know the people in attendance. While this can make it difficult to network, I’ve found it to be easier when you attend a networking session from your home. Staying in an area you feel comfortable helps me interact with others I’ve haven’t met before.
Along the same lines as comfortability, networking online meant that I would also need not worry about travel, finding a time to leave, or directions to said event. The only aspect I had to concern myself with was logging on at the starting time and making the most of the event for its duration.
Overall, these events had clear benefits despite being confined to an online environment. In fact, online networking sessions allowed me to achieve goals I wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise. Though it subtracted elements that could have been helpful in person, like the face-to-face interaction, the skills I learned helped me further down the road. Though there may be challenges to online networking events, like lack of body language, I feel the benefits far outweigh the negatives.
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