Last week, we discussed how social media was a valuable asset for networking online during the pandemic.
It can help us continue growing and be an active part of our professional communities. However, there is a dark side to social media and online networking may have a negative impact on your mental health and well-being.
It can sometimes feel a little fruitless.
Social networks are incredibly analytics-based so it can be difficult to expand your connections past a certain group or industry. Sometimes, the exact opposite is the issue. You may receive connection requests despite having no common interests or experiences with the sender. It is important to keep your network tailored but can be a struggle if you find your current online community is limited or uninspiring. If you are struggling to expand your horizons or break into a new industry, work on strengthening your current professional connections. Make sure that the network you already have is strong and that you present yourself as a reliable connection for others. People will remember how you have helped or any impression you have made and could pass your contact details on to the right person.
The opportunities are scarce in comparison to in-person networking.
It can be demoralising when you make a connection with someone significant in your industry or who has a career you would like to emulate but nothing comes of it. We should try not to expect too much from a simple online conversation but there can be a lot of frustration when your network seems unresponsive. Trade shows and in-person networking events are often far more lucrative in producing professional leads and establishing meaningful relationships with likeminded people. Trying to replicate these results purely through online tools is often dissatisfying. By reaching out to online connections and offering a chance to follow-up in person, to grab a coffee or inviting them to an event you think they might enjoy, makes the engagement more worthwhile and could translate into better professional relationships. Don’t take any rejections to heart and aim to be as flexible as you can.
Be prepared for unwanted attention.
The capabilities of online networking are fantastic, but they are sometimes used for wrong purposes. It is draining, dealing with inappropriate messages or unnecessarily harsh criticism from strangers on the internet. Taking time away from any platform is important to preserve your own well-being. Blocking and reporting users who are abusive or violate community guidelines protects you and other users of the site.
Online networking is hard to put down
Social media networks are so easily accessible that we may be tempted to constantly be working. You could spend hours producing content, promoting your business, or interacting with your network. Setting yourself working hours to limit your time networking or building your career gives you down time, a chance to decompress, and time away from online platforms that eventually start to have a negative impact on your mental health. The fun, social aspect of networking is not often prevalent in online communication. When it does start to feel like a chore or task, rather than a chance to socialise with other professional, it is time to step back and spend time offline.