Becoming A Hyper Connector
Growing your career and connections in a virtual world.
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Learning How to Grow Your Career and Connections In a Virtual World
Growing and nurturing a career takes effort. It requires the cultivation of skills and building relationships with other professionals in your industry. But earlier this year, when the COVID-19 pandemic sent all non-essential employees home to work remotely, every aspect of work — including networking and career development — got even more complicated.
Like most industries, the energy sector has had to adapt to this remote work shift. And so far, the industry has made changes that will likely be beneficial in the long-term. In a recent earnings call, oil service companies Schlumberger and Halliburton noted that the current downturn could accelerate the adoption of even more digitization, especially if it can expand remote operations.
As the oil and gas industry becomes more acquainted with digital technologies, its professionals have to do the same. Video calls and other collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams are replacing in-person meetings and discussions, and in-person networking events or training sessions are no longer an option. Employees have to find new ways of building effective relationships and comfortability with their coworkers and colleagues virtually. Here are a few ways that professionals in any industry — including those in the energy sector — can continue networking and developing their careers remotely.
Networking While Socially Distanced
Expanding your professional network virtually is possible — in fact, many employees were using these networking strategies before they were the only option. Joining LinkedIn groups and exploring the LinkedIn profiles of other industry professionals will help employees study industry topics, discussions and career trajectories.
Connecting with others via social media platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook can also help employees mitigate feelings of isolation and depression — two common symptoms of the ongoing pandemic. Reach out to friends and colleagues in your industry from your alma mater and talk to them about their current projects and future plans, or invite them to attend webinars or virtual conferences that are applicable to your shared industry.
Face-To-Face Is Still An Option
Common networking strategies, like meeting for coffee and handing out business cards at a conference, do typically require in-person interactions — but they are translatable in the virtual space. Georgette Pascale, the founder of Pascale Communications, recommends using Facetime to connect face-to-face:
“Get face-to-face contact when you can, and don’t underestimate the importance of a virtual FaceTime to connect with colleagues or clients,” she explains. “Keep lines of communication open and accessible, and be clear that there’s always a way to connect.”
Email contacts or potential collaborators to set up video calls or FaceTimes to connect over coffee. It’s important for employees to try and replicate face-to-face communications as best they can. Experts have long believed that most communication is 7% verbal and 93% non-verbal. While this idea is widely debated, most professionals today understand that in order to get a better understanding of a person, face-to-face meetings can be more effective and feel less formal than virtual ones.
Aim For Honest, Human Connections
It can be tempting to want to connect with as many people as possible when networking — and social media makes it easy. With the click of a button, professionals can add new people to their LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook networks. But this is a common mistake: According to Andrew Sobel, career consultant and best-selling author, it’s actually better for employees to invest in just a few “critical” connections.
Look for co-workers, customers, mentors, or someone who’s helped you make valuable connections. These are the individuals whose presence is clearly valuable to your career. After identifying these individuals, make sure to keep regular contact with them.
“You should be talking two or three times a year,” said Sobel. “You should know what their interests are and follow up with them around those.”
Now is the time for professionals in any industry to begin adapting to the new, virtual ways of networking. Because even after this pandemic, remote work will likely remain: A BCG survey found that approximately 40% of employees will continue working remotely in the future and 40% of companies expect that more than a quarter of employees will adopt a hybrid model that involves both remote and on-site work. If virtual, remote work is our new normal, then virtual networking and career development is too.