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Time is a luxury, and now many people have more of it. Around the world, events are canceled, restaurants closed and governments are advising everyone to stay home. When possible, employers are asking employees to work remotely. No matter how you look at it, life is slowing down with fewer places to go. While people may not be engaging publicly, social media and internet usage will increase as folks turn to online platforms for entertainment, conversation and, yes, networking.
In other words, coronavirus-prescribed social distancing does not equate to postponing your job search. This may be the best time yet to make new connections and maybe even land your next job.
Pick a Platform & Work It
Start with the professional social media network of choice and, using hashtags, look for posts and comments in the area you want to network. Find articles that resonate and provide an opportunity to add value. This is not the time to criticize, so if you can’t find something nice to say or a way to contribute, move on.
When you come across interesting people in your second- or third-level connections, read their profile, find something of interest to comment on and ask to connect. Connections you make now and foster over time may lead to your next interview.
Set aside time throughout the week to follow your new contacts feed and comment, like or share what works for you. The best way to create a dialog is to ask powerful, open-ended questions. Those exchanges often offer a warm invite to discuss further via phone or video call.
Update Your Online Presence
Use this downtime to think about how you present yourself virtually. What do your social media platforms say about you? Do your professional strengths and interests stand out loud and clear? If not, this is an excellent time to revise or develop a personal brand. Begin by reflecting on what is important to you professionally.
Look for key influencers in your field of interest to see how they have branded themselves. Which profiles inspire you and how can those insights be incorporated into your brand? Reach out to these influencers and ask for feedback on your profile and how you can make it more prominent. You may be surprised how many people will provide helpful feedback and may even provide additional connections. Incorporate new feedback into your profile and create a tagline the clearly states your value-add.
Online learning is a great way to keep your skills cutting edge. Business Insider just released this list of 54 free online courses from the best colleges in the US — including Princeton, Harvard, and Yale.
Whatever your interests, these sites provide the perfect social distancing method of continuing to learn and grow your skills. For a small fee, many of the courses come with a certificate of completion you can add to your professional portfolio.
What better time than now to go through your contacts and set “catch up” calls to reconnect with friends, former colleagues and others who may be able to help you network. With so many now working remotely, employees are saving lots of time in daily preparation and commute times. That time can easily be allocated to other activities–networking included!
Watch the Boards
With companies moving to remote work, new opportunities may come up as well. Be sure to check your favorite boards for remote opportunities in your field of interest.
To better understand the best-suited jobs for remote work, check out this article for the 25 Best Remote Jobs in 2020. Or, join this upcoming webinar about two freelancers who turned their passion into a thriving business on the Upwork platform.
These may be unprecedented times, but with focus and creativity, social distancing may bring you closer than ever to your next job.
For the original article, visit Forbes.