Virtual Networking Tips for Remote Professionals
If you work in an office or other on-site workspace, networking is easy. When you gather in the break room, attend meetings, or take the elevator, you naturally build connections and relationships with your co-workers.
Then, as people move into other roles, you can stay in touch and reach out when you start looking for a job or when you find out that a former colleague is interested in a company you’d like to work for. .
However, this seamless network experience can become more difficult when working remotely, which is becoming even more common now. According to a June 2020 PwC survey, 77% of office workers worked from home at least one day a week. Overall, 72% said they would like to work out of the office at least two days a week, while 32% of respondents always prefer to work out of the office.
For people who currently work remotely, as well as those who decide to work remotely based on personal preferences, networking may require more effort, but it is by no means inaccessible.
Here’s how to start building and maintaining connections if you’re a remote professional.
Take advantage of social media
For remote workers, social media is ideal as it is designed to encourage remote connections. It’s an easy way to connect with people you don’t normally meet in person. Try these social media networking tactics:
Join LinkedIn groups: These groups are organized by job categories such as skills, industry, etc. You can also join alumni groups. If you are part of a group, join the conversations. Join Facebook Groups: While Facebook is more associated with fun than work, this social media giant also has plenty of career-focused groups, from industry-focused groups to job-finding groups. Follow and chat with thought leaders on Twitter: Being active on Twitter can also be a way to network: follow the big names in your industry and join the conversation.
Also be sure to connect with your current and former colleagues on social media platforms.
Take part in virtual events
Many organizations that previously held face-to-face events are now moving to virtual events. You may discover even more connections than in a face-to-face conference. An IDC survey reports that just over half of events lost attendees during the transition, but 46% gained new attendees as a result of moving to the web.
Attending these events can also be a great way to network. Many encourage attendees to chat and join event-specific online groups.
Take advantage of all that these events have to offer. Attend virtual lectures and speaker sessions. Afterward, you may even consider reaching out to speakers or other attendees you interacted with during the event.
When it’s safe to do so, you can also attend in-person networking events such as happy hours, conferences, etc., even while working remotely. Taking courses can also be a way to meet and connect with more people in your industry. And once face-to-face meetings are no longer taboo, consider volunteering, which can also be a way to meet and connect with more people.
Build relationships with your current colleagues
If you work remotely, take advantage of desktop chat programs and video conferencing. Although these are professional places, such as for face-to-face meetings and conversations, there is room for socializing and relationship building.
At the start of video meetings, try to chat while waiting for participants to join you and chat as well. Sending an emoji reply or a GIF can go a long way in building a friendship.
Be sure to turn on your video during meetings if that’s an option – it’s easier to connect when people can see your facial expressions. And if you don’t have occasional meetings with colleagues, try adding them to the calendar.
Stay in touch with former colleagues
Taking action to build a relationship is not enough. It is also necessary to take care of it by keeping in touch. After all, you don’t just want to contact people when you need a favor. Nobody feels good about it.
Even if you can’t get in touch with someone personally due to geographic reasons, there are still many ways to keep in touch:
Send an occasional email to say hello. Share an article, news, or job posting that you think the person might be interested in. Comment on the person’s posts on social media platforms
Above all, try to be authentic when networking. Keeping in touch with people you find genuinely interesting and enjoy chatting with makes the task a pleasure rather than a chore.