Virtual Networking Best Practices for Aspiring MSLs

I say this often, but we’re so fortunate that our industry (specifically Med Affairs) utilizes LinkedIn the way they do. Technology is an incredible resource, especially for job seekers. Can you believe there was a day you would have to go apply for a job in person or send a resume via fax! We have it so easy now, where everything is just at the click of a button. This is great for convenience but can create a little bit of a disconnect from an interpersonal standpoint. If you’re looking to make the most out of your virtual networking, below are a few suggestions.

If you’re reaching out asking someone for their guidance or assistance, be mindful that your emergency might not be their emergency (especially if this is someone you’re not compensating for their time). It’s easy to forget that in a virtual world and it’s important to remember that people have lives and jobs outside of email and LinkedIn messenger. Be as gracious and flexible as possible.

Tip 1: Do your homework.

There are SO many amazing resources available for candidates (both new MSLs and experienced MSLs). We’ve personally created a lot of tools to be helpful. As much as we would love to carve out time to speak with every single aspiring MSL candidate, it’s not exactly feasible- and not everyone is ready to begin formally networking for their job search yet. The internet is a fantastic resource, use it to your advantage and exhaust what you can learn on your own before you start trying to engage with MSLs and Recruiters to educate you. Once you’ve tapped out your self-learning, THAT is when you should start reaching out. You’ll be more confident and educated and make better first impressions. We would much rather spend our time together answering questions specific to you and your job search vs. “general” topics that we’ve covered and created dedicated resources for that address those things.  You present as a much more qualified candidate when you demonstrate your level of engagement by doing the pre-work. These are the types of aspiring candidates who rise to the top of the resume pile.

Tip 2: Before you reach out, review their LinkedIn profile.

You can identify commonalities, have a better understanding of what they do, and it should also help you formulate some solid questions for your call. Additionally, if someone has taken the time to write in their LinkedIn summary the best way to reach out to them, make sure you follow those suggestions. If you’re being introduced by a friend or colleague, it’s still very important to review their profile beforehand and do the pre-work as well. Showing up prepared is one of the best ways to leave a strong lasting impression.

Tip 3: Have your elevator pitch ready to go.

Introduce yourself, give them your brief backstory and demonstrate you’ve done your homework by tying it all together. If you’re reaching out to network with someone for a job/prospects, etc., don’t put the burden on that person by having to PULL information out of you. Most people are happy to help and connect, but the way in which you approach them makes a huge difference.

I get messages all the time like “What do you do? How can you help me? I need help, when can you talk? What jobs do you have for me??”. My job is to help people, show them jobs, match them with awesome companies/candidates- so OF COURSE I want to do those things, but receiving cold messages like that is not the most effective way for those folks to make a positive first impression with someone who will be a potential partner in their job search. When you have someone vouch for you in an interview process, whether that’s a friend, colleague, or recruiter– they are attaching themselves to you, so how you show up leaves an impression on them as well (for better or worse). It’s critical that you’re putting your best foot forward from the start in order to get the most from the interactions you’re having.

Those example messages I shared don’t demonstrate great EQ, which is an essential skill for successful MSLs, so if you’re approaching ME like this, how can I feel confident you wouldn’t approach hiring managers, or KOLs like this if you were to get the job?

Every interaction you have with your professional network is important and builds your reputation and brand- even before you have the official MSL title.

Tip 4: Be ready to roll!

Have a professional resume/CV and Cover Letter ready to share. You never know when opportunities might pop up. *Don’t title it “MSL RESUME” because everyone names their resumes that and you don’t want it getting lost. Use FIRST NAME LAST NAME, DEGREE, Resume 2021. We have free resume templates under the “resources” tab on our website if you’d like some examples or need some help!

Have a professional LI profile polished before you start engaging- this is likely the FIRST thing someone is going to check out, so you don’t want it haphazardly pieced together. We created a full blog post dedicated to this topic here if you need any ideas :).

Have a professional email set up for your job search. If at all possible, [email protected], or some variation of that is simple and works well.

Tip 5: The follow-up.

It’s important to be persistent and proactive in your networking and job searching, but it’s equally important to be respectful of everyone’s time. An MSL who is paying it forward and agreeing to network with aspiring MSL candidates is also very likely to have a lot on their plate. Working FT means they’re likely traveling or on calls back-to-back. It’s also highly likely they have family responsibilities or things outside of work they’re committed to as well, so you don’t want to go overboard with the follow-up. This is another way you can demonstrate high EQ from the start with your new connections. Ask “when would be a good time to touch base again?”, or “what is your preferred method or frequency of communication?”. Then you don’t have to guess, and you will know what’s appropriate for that person.

I hope this is helpful in getting you started, or helping you grow your existing network! Feel free to drop any comments, questions, or tips you might like to add!

Happy connecting!