April 20, 2024

Working The Zoom: Virtual Networking Flourishes Despite Lockdown

CWJobs, the UK’s leading tech job board, revealed that networking has continued to form a vital part of working life, even under lockdown.

Despite typically attending fewer than one networking event a month prior to the lockdown, two fifths (40%) of UK office workers have now attended one virtually, during isolation. Zoom (38%), Skype (35%) and WhatsApp (32%) are the preferred platforms to make new professional contacts from home.

Build your little black book remotely

More than two thirds (68%) of UK professionals correlate career success with their network of contacts, so using video conferencing platforms to stay connected whilst working remotely is vital to continue to build business relationships. This is especially true for the 61% that believe this period of isolation will negatively impact their networking opportunities. 62% go further and say that permanently working from home will negatively impact their careers in the long term. However, more than half (51%) of UK employees have rebuked this fear by reaching out to new business contacts and prospective clients (56%) during this time of isolation. 50% have even generated new business leads.

The IT crowd

It is no surprise that the UK’s tech industry is at the forefront of virtual networking. Almost two thirds (60%) have attended an event from home, taking to Microsoft Teams (55%), Facetime (40%) and Zoom (39%) as their platforms of choice to do so. More than half (54%) of the tech industry prefer virtual networking to traditional face-to-face meetings, with 69% taking it a step further to say they also prefer communicating with their managers and colleagues digitally.

No more canapes and business cards

28% of traditional networking event attendees say they attended solely for the food and drink, yet over a quarter (28%) of people find them socially awkward, and 25% would avoid them altogether if they could.

While the exchange of handshakes and handing over business cards is likely to be impossible for the foreseeable future, meeting virtually means more than half (59%) find this a more relaxed environment which suits a wider variety of people and personality types. 66% also think introverts can benefit the most from this new format.

Dominic Harvey, Commercial Director at CWJobs, commented:

“As the entire world has been abruptly thrown into a new remote way of working since lockdown, we’re pleased to see that many of us are adapting and using different methods of technology to enable us to continue nurturing our professional network. Despite being unable to mingle in a traditional sense, virtual networking has brought a new way for people to build and maintain their professional contacts. This will ensure that lockdown does not disrupt the introduction of people to prospective clients or business opportunities. We hope the use of these platforms continues to be embraced into the future, and as we adapt again to the ‘new normal’ world of work once lockdown ends.”

CWJobs has partnered with Corinne Mills, Managing Director of Personal Career Management, to share her tips on how to make the most of our time in lockdown and prepare for the future of networking: https://www.cwjobs.co.uk/advice/remote-networking

Corinne Mills commented:

“While most of us would prefer to meet new professional contacts in person, there are lots of advantages to the new online format. It’s far more accessible as there is no travel involved. It also tends to be a much more structured format with attendees either taking it in turns to introduce themselves to the group, or people are paired in a conversational break out room. The survey results show that 59% of UK workers think that this virtual networking approach balances out social pressures for the outgoing or shy professionals which work to everyone’s advantage and makes it easier than physical networking events. The often intimidating necessity to work your way around the room is removed which puts people more at ease.”