Networking doesn’t come easy to everyone. Some are better at it than others. And even if you were good at in B.C. (“Before Corona”), you most likely had to relearn how to network over the past 12 months. During the pandemic, knowing how to grow and maintain a strong network has become an even more invaluable skill. Today, who you know has become as important as what you know. This is why everyone needs to have some knowledge of networking.
To find out more about what has changed in building a network, I spoke to Beny Rubinstein. Beny leads TeraBioSafety Business Unit’s international go-to-market and engagement with strategic partners, agents, and clients globally. He has also worked for Microsoft and has amassed a robust global network while working and living in Israel since 2016.
How have networking rules changed during the pandemic?
Networking involves strengthening the connections you have already, as well as continuing to add new people to your network. When reaching out to someone outside your network, you need to think about what value you can add to them, not only what they can do for you. “Adopting an empathetic approach is crucial during the pandemic.”
So, what has changed during the pandemic?
Currently, there is increased competition among job-seekers. There is a higher ratio of candidates to available positions than before the pandemic. Moreover, geographical distance from work became less of an issue, as an increasing number of jobs can now be done remotely – sometimes even internationally! As more people are working from home, it is often easier to connect with them. Before the pandemic, people were traveling around between meetings and were mostly unavailable during those times.
Today, it is easier to arrange a virtual coffee meeting (or wine meeting, depending on the time zone!) over Zoom or any other conference platform. You can also meet people around the globe without leaving home.
The greatest challenges to building a network
In the age of the pandemic, there are fewer meet-ups and job fairs. However, that doesn’t have to be a disadvantage. Some people may prefer to grow their network online than going to events with 200-300 people. It is also easier to initiate one-on-one conversations on LinkedIn than at crowded events.
Why is networking important even if you are working?
I lived in the US for 15 years, where I got my MBA and worked for Microsoft at their corporate headquarters in Redmond, WA. I held various global sales and marketing positions, moving throughout the company. I was able to learn from experienced professionals. They helped me to develop in my career and gain new skills. It is a great idea to continue growing your network while working, as it may help you later on when (or if) you want to move on to new challenges.
Effective networking involves combining content with context. First, you need to be clear about what you want to gain from a connection. I would recommend starting by offering something that the connection will find valuable or of interest. For example, if you want to connect with an employee at a company that you would like to work for, it’s a good idea to do some research. Maybe you’ll find a press release or some other noteworthy company news. You might also consider sharing an article or blog post focused on the company’s industry or a similar product that they offer.
Are there any tools or platforms that you use to network, and why do you find them useful?
I mainly use LinkedIn, but sometimes I also use Facebook and Twitter for preliminary research. Compared with other platforms, LinkedIn has the most relevant and professional content and features.
Sometimes, I check out the profile of someone I want to connect with on Facebook. Occasionally, we will have mutual acquaintances, hobbies, passions, or interests. While scrolling down a Facebook profile, I may find a picture of them with a mutual friend. When I reach out to them, we can already talk about something we have in common.
How do you maintain, nurture, and grow your network on LinkedIn and other platforms?
It’s a good idea to grow your network while working. Expanding your network will help you when you are looking for your next opportunity. Perhaps, there’s someone in your network who has a connection with a hiring manager or recruiter working for the organization. Some people are constantly on the move, so they may end up landing somewhere interesting to you in the future.
With a network of over 23,000 people on LinkedIn, how do you nurture all your contacts?
If I like an article that someone on my network has written, I will comment, like, or share it. People appreciate it. Taking an interest in what your contacts are sharing, will go a long way to nurture your network. Also – while it may sound silly, LinkedIn makes it easy for you to congratulate people on new positions, or on their birthdays. On many occasions, while sending them a simple ‘congratulations’, I am surprised to see that we were in touch years earlier and we can resume our conversation when we are both at different stages in our careers.
Do you see any company rivaling LinkedIn as the next big networking platform?
One of my main interests is disruptive technologies. In the short term, I don’t see any platform becoming bigger or better than LinkedIn. However, it is possible that sometime in the future LinkedIn will have a serious competitor or multiple strong competitors. For now, Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn has been a catalyst for an even stronger position in the marketplace (and acquisition of SlideShare, Lynda, Connectifier have strengthened its product offering).
Although the idea of networking hasn’t changed that much since the pandemic, more people are working from home, and there is less travel. There is less opportunity to meet people at physical networking events; however, it is easier to have one-to-one conversations on LinkedIn. You can also meet anyone around the globe without leaving home. Leverage adversity to make you stronger – get to work and capture those extra hours we have all gained through remote or hybrid work!
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Stephen Hawking
Beny is an accomplished hands-on entrepreneur with strategy consulting and Venture Capital experience. He earned a BSc. degree in Computer Engineering and an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania. He is Chief BioSafety Partners at Tera and Co-Chairperson of the Future of Health Summit in Bratislava – as well as an Advisory Board Member at Evolution.Inc., focusing on Artificial Intelligence, Genomics, and Digital Health. You can find more about Beny at www.benyrubinstein.com.
The Gvahim Network is a closed group and, as such, its members are more willing and eager to help and network with fellow members.