Walking into a room of unfamiliar faces can be daunting, especially when you’re trying to make a good impression at a networking event. As large gatherings are off the agenda due to COVID-19 you might be breathing a sigh of relief, but networking hasn’t gone away. Instead, it’s moved online. Here we take a look at the new rules of networking during a pandemic.

The good news is networking has become gentler and more supportive, according to Adam Shaw of The Heart Guy, a health promoter and speaker. That’s because everyone has been affected one way or another by the pandemic. It was never wise to take a clinical approach to networking, but that is truer than ever now, said Shaw. “Don’t look on it as, ‘What’s in it for me?’ Consider how you can help—and not just in a professional sense. Show that you care. People are more sensitive to that now,” he said.

How important is networking? Whether you are looking for new opportunities or hoping to boost your career, this might be just the ticket, according to Kingsley Aikins, chief executive of The Networking Institute. “Networking is more important than ever,” he said. “A lot of people will be looking for work and this can give you a competitive advantage. The key is to do it sensitively.”

Research conducted on LinkedIn, from 2016, indicated that 85% of its users had found jobs through networking. This makes sense because many people use LinkedIn as a recruitment resource. Real world figures are likely to be lower.

Networking during COVID-19