8 Tips on How to Network Remotely, Plus A Bonus Tip
We’ve written about how to successfully onboard a remote worker, but just as important is how to network in this present day, when we are unable to meet physically. Below are 8 tips for workers on how to form meaningful connections in this time, as well as an extra tip at the end.
1. Embrace Online Methods
To some, networking online is disadvantageous, but it may actually be a blessing. First, it means your network does not need to be limited to those in the same location as you. Also, by networking online, you save the time you would have spent going to places. As a result, you need to maximize online networking to its fullest potential. You can do this by attending online conferences and webinars, and scheduling online meetings with people you want to connect with. And, if preferred by the other party and yourself, include communication methods such as face time and calls.
2. Use Social Media
Social media is useful for much more than posting selfies. Platforms such as Instagram and LinkedIn are great for showcasing your professional services and portfolio, establishing your brand, effectively reaching a wider audience than you could have on your own, and connecting with individuals in the same industry. The key is to understand what social media app is most popular in your industry and will best showcase your brand and work. Besides that, make sure you are always putting your best foot forward on your social media platforms, e.g. do not make statements or promote pictures that can tarnish your brand.
3. Online Groups
Online groups are a great way to easily meet and interact with people from your industry of interest or at the same stage as you, career-wise. These groups can be a source of motivation when working alone, and you can find, through them, information on industry-related matters and new job openings. A good number of groups can be found on Facebook, with the search feature, and there are free communities on slack you can join.
4. Give Value
When networking, it can be easy to just focus on what the other person can do for you. This, however, is not the best way to develop a meaningful professional relationship, as no successful relationship is a one-way affair. When it comes to forming new connections, especially with an authority figure in the field, you need to make the relationship beneficial to the other party, therefore giving them a reason to interact with and help you. This can be through patiently listening to the other person’s perspective on a subject, resharing the person’s content on your social media platforms, providing valuable comments on their social posts, and celebrating the individual’s achievements.
Forums are another medium for understanding career related topics and expanding your network. This is because through them, you can receive different inputs from many people on a particular topic, and these diverse opinions can make for a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Also try to answer questions, because this will position you as a valuable resource in the community. Moreover, let the conversation with other members of the forum go beyond answering or asking questions; that way you are building an actual relationship, and you are leaving a more lasting impression on them.
6. Be Intentional
When you are working remotely, you have to actively dedicate time to network so that it does not become an afterthought. Also, you need to be specific about the industry you want to expand your network in and who you aspire to connect with. When you are aware of this, you can then identify what method is best for connecting with such people because even though the methods discussed in this article are all great, it is not possible to do them all effectively at a time. Finally, you need to know and be able to explain to whoever you wish to connect with the specific reason you want a relationship with them. Your reason should be more detailed than “a desire to learn from and form a professional relationship with them”. This allows the relationship to go in the right direction and, later down the line, yield results that are actually beneficial to you.
7. Virtual Coworking
This idea comes from halfhalftravel.com. Since the pandemic makes it harder to network in a physical co-working space, why not take things online? Consider hosting or joining a virtual coworking session. This can be a zoom meeting in which everyone is working at the same time infront of each other for a set of hours; to make the experience more effective, everyone can decide to leave their cameras on. Not only will this provide you motivation to be productive and be excited about your work, but you could also form valuable relationships with people you may not have encountered before; moreover, you enjoy the pleasure of human interaction while working which can be rare these days. According to halfhalftravel.com, if you would like to host a session, you can do so by "[inviting] a friend and [asking] each person to invite a friend or colleague who also works remotely.”
8. Follow Up
Just like you would in physical networking, you should follow up with whomever you interact with. Consider putting it on your to-do list so you do not forget, and you can follow up through email, online coffee meeting, call, etc.
Present Yourself as A Valuable Resource
If you are knowledgeable about your career field, then look for ways to share this information with an audience. This includes guest blogging, hosting or speaking at webinars, being a podcast guest, hosting an Instagram live for a company, or being interviewed on a video. This expands your reach and presents you as an expert in your field, which will likely make people interested in having a professional relationship with you.
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