By Breanna Gunn
Networking conjures up images of professionally awkward events with required name tags and forced small talk. Needless to say, it’s one of the few things we didn’t miss when the COVID-19 pandemic pushed us into quarantine.
Working from home required us all to find new ways to build professional connections and get some much-needed social interaction. Virtual networking became our new normal—and we’re never going back.
Okay, okay, in-person networking will probably always be around. But innovative platforms like Clubhouse and Lunchclub have made connecting with personal strangers more efficient and significantly less awkward.
If you’re ready to dip your toes into your industry’s virtual networking pool, these five platforms are great places to get started.
If you’ve been avoiding virtual networking because you hate being on camera, then you’ll love Clubhouse. This app is audio-only, meaning you can network in your sweatpants, and no one will ever know a thing.
Participants host virtual rooms of up to 5,000 people where they discuss a specific topic live. People can ask questions and jump in and out of rooms as needed. The only downside to this app is that it’s invitation-only, so you have to know someone who’s already on it and ask them to invite you in. But once you do, joining is totally free.
Not everyone thrives in big networking events with hundreds of people. If you’re more of a one-on-one type of networker, then be sure to check out Lunchclub.
Once you create an account that details your background, goals, and interests, Lunchclub will pair you every week with a high-quality professional match for a 45-minute, 1:1 virtual meeting. You can put that you’re looking for peers in a new industry, on a job hunt, or even a partner for a new project.
If you’re an entrepreneur running an online business, you need to get on BeeKonnected.
This virtual community is made up entirely of entrepreneurs who want to grow impactful relationships and expand their online presence. The platform’s search engine algorithm matches you up with a business connection, provides you with powerful business tools, and offers on-demand training programs in marketing, branding, and more.
Slack isn’t just a platform for you to communicate with your team or share memes with your boss. This message-based platform and app is a powerful networking tool.
Finding Slack Channels dedicated to networking in your industry will require a little investigating on your part, but once you do, these are ideal places for job opportunities, client leads, and more. Start by searching in Slack’s Channel Search or browsing a site like Slofile.
We can’t mention virtual networking without a shout-out to the original professional social media platform—LinkedIn.
This network has come a long way from being your virtual resume. With an ever-growing list of LinkedIn Groups to join and participate in, the possibilities of who you could meet are endless. If you’re interested in learning how to grow on LinkedIn and find new leads, check out my mastermind LinkedIn Launch Lab.