If you are a job seeker or work with a professional association, you understand the importance of building relationships and growing your network to advance your career and the industry you work in. Given the current situation, job seekers must adapt to these changes and find new ways to network with other professionals in their field. 

With some help from technology and professional associations, job seekers can seamlessly immerse themselves into a virtual networking world that fosters professional growth and advances the industry. 

Here are 4 ways you can virtually grow your network by joining a professional association:

  1. Attend Virtual Events
  2. Join an Online Community 
  3. Engage with Peers on Social Media 
  4. Utilize Association Job Boards 

Attend Virtual Events

It is important to build your network with meaningful connections to remain top of mind so when new positions become available, your peers think of you and refer you for the job. Experts say that between 70 – 85% of people found their current position because of networking, so it’s safe to say that building relationships with peers can play a huge role in your career progression. 

Joining a professional association relieves the burden of finding networking opportunities since they host these kinds of events regularly and you can trust they will connect you with influential people. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits that comes from networking within a professional association is the ability to connect with peers from all over the world with diverse backgrounds in education and experience which offers a great way to gain different perspectives and improve your knowledge. 

Here are some examples of virtual networking events professional associations might host:

  1. Annual association meetings
  2. Members-only happy hours
  3. Career Fairs 
  4. Networking mixers

Join an Online Community

Online communities are an authentic space where professionals can communicate with one another (and association staff members) to share ideas, offer advice and foster relationships with other passionate industry professionals. Interactions on the platform can be anything from asking “help desk” related questions for association login problems, to sharing industry information and more. 

Being active on an association’s online community will help build your network as you continue to engage with your peers and keep your name relevant within the community. Also, online communities are an easy way to find relevant virtual networking events that your peers are attending or events your association is hosting internally. 

Engage with Peers on Social Media 

Similar to an online community platform, social media networking on your associations page or other industry-related pages is an effective way to grow your network. 

For example, if your association has a LinkedIn page, consider sharing, commenting and tagging your peers in their posts to start conversations within your community. Since LinkedIn is a more professional social networking medium compared to others, it is a great space to interact with other serious professionals and add them to your network. Also, LinkedIn is all about adding connections, so that makes it an even better place to manage your connections and display them with pride. 

Social media has the power to connect you with professionals all around the world and connect with people outside of your association, as well. Being able to connect with peers outside of your immediate network circle (which includes your association and place of employment) gives you access to supplemental information and job opportunities, but also allows you to refer them to your association so they can share their wealth of knowledge with a greater audience of your peers. You can make these connections by following relevant hashtags or other industry pages, commenting on those posts or creating your own posts to start conversations and gradually build your network. 

Utilize Association Job Boards

Association job boards make the job hunting and employer networking process easier for all professionals since you have direct access to industry-related jobs, better ways to search for those jobs, and can find jobs that are specific to sub professions and specialities. You can also trust that your association is providing quality employers that will meet your specifications and help you advance in your career. On the job board, you can create a job seeker profile that gives employers easy access to your resume, references, certifications and qualifications as they search for potential candidates. A job seeker profile can greatly expand your network with recruiters since they can easily view your profile and reach out to schedule interviews. 

Access to an association’s job board will also be helpful when networking during their virtual career fair. Before the event, you can browse the employers that are attending, view their open positions on their employer page, and connect with recruiters online if their company and position fits your needs. Some virtual career fair platforms even provide the option to reach out to employers to schedule interviews ahead of time! Employers attending the career fair will have the option to view your job seeker profile and reach out to you for interviews as well, making it effortless to grow your network.