By Anika Peng, CABS F2021 President
During these unprecedented times of 2020, it can be difficult to figure out how to grow your network and connections virtually. Technology and social media has helped to create an environment that gives everyone the ability to connect, but it can still pose challenges. Especially for business students that have not leveraged their online presence in the past, this can be a difficult change.
Being a virtual national organization, the CABS Leadership Team and directors have needed to rely on various platforms and tools to be able to connect with business students across the country. As a result, we have been able to develop an understanding of how to best network in 2020. In this blog post, we will go over the various ways that you can continue to grow your connections, even in this unprecedented year.
Building your LinkedIn Presence
LinkedIn is one of the main platforms you get introduced to the second that you are a business student. You are taught to outline and highlight your professional experiences, leadership positions, and the various skills that you have learned over the years, all within your profile. In addition, you want to have a catchy bio and a call to action for anyone who stumbles upon your experiences.
Just like you are looking for connections online, so is everyone else. Your biography should tell potential connections what industry you work in or aspire to be in and what people can chat with you about. Are you involved in your school’s BSA? Do you love case competitions? Are you looking for a job in a specific industry? These prompts will encourage those that see your LinkedIn to send you a message if they have anything that would be applicable to you.
Overall, developing a good LinkedIn profile is key to help you start developing your network. If you are looking to improve your profile, this is a resource you can take a look at. LinkedIn Learning also provides courses that are tailored to the skills that you have added so that you can back up your skillset.
Virtual Coffee Chats
Once you have developed a good online presence through LinkedIn, this is when you can begin searching for contacts that you would like to be connected with. This could range from personal contacts from school, recruiters at companies that you would like to work for, or simply industry professionals that you are interested in. Depending on what type of individual you are looking to get connected with, you may need to include a personalized invite with an additional call to action.
For example, if it is a recruiter or an industry professional, stating why you would like to be connected to them and an actionable next step, such as a coffee chat, should all be included in the initial connect request. That way, you have a roster of contacts that you could set up chats with, to begin building meaningful relationships.
When it comes to virtual coffee chats, the goal should not just be getting a job. Coffee chats are a great opportunity to stay connected to someone that could potentially be helpful to your career in the future. Especially in the pandemic, many companies are not hiring as often as they were in the past. However, if you make a good first impression, it will help your chances when they do begin recruiting again.
After your virtual coffee chats, make a note of the time frame of when they mention opportunities will come up and set a reminder for yourself to check in with them again. Like all of your other contacts, keeping them updated with LinkedIn posts about new events or projects you take on during the year will also remind them of your coffee chat.
Online Workshops and Conferences
Business student associations and various organizations are constantly creating and promoting online workshops and conferences for your development. Although another couple of hours on your laptop on a Zoom call may seem draining, these are actually some of the best touchpoints to create with recruiters that are actively seeking new employees.
CABS has hosted several workshops over the summer and recently held a resume workshop with IBM on November 4th, 2020. This opportunity allows students to chat and network with recruiters in a smaller setting as workshops are meant to be interactive and engaging for attendees.
Since conferences are virtual this year, many schools have opened up their conferences beyond their usual crowd and are charging a lower price since it is online. This gives you the opportunity to attend more conferences during your school year where you can chat with industry professionals without breaking the bank.
CABS will be adding open conferences and competitions from our Member Schools as a resource for any business students that are looking to participate so stay tuned for that!
Although this year has presented some very different circumstances for all business students, you do not have to worry! Companies and recruiters are still looking for ways to connect and industry professionals are more than willing to share their experiences with you, especially if you’re reaching out during these times. Do not be discouraged and keep working on your online presence!
To stay connected with CABS, check us out on our social media channels (@cabs.online) or our website cabsonline.ca. We consistently post updates on different activities that you can get involved in whether that is with our Member Schools or within our CABS operations.