More than a year after businesses were forced to shift to remote work, people are finally settling into their new way of life. Certain aspects of work life have taken longer to translate into something that makes sense in remote working terms, such as a work-life balance, but other aspects have seemed practically impossible – such as networking.
Networking is a key tool to grow, develop, and improve on skill sets, as well as staying on top of relevant trends in the business world. It’s also a great way to advance a career, access more job opportunities, and keep up a healthy social life.
Businesses with remote employees have run into a few barriers to networking however, and can find it difficult to support their employees’ networking needs. In the interest of helping solve these problems, here are some networking tips for businesses with remote employees.
LinkedIn is a great platform for people to connect, inquire about resumes, and search for jobs. However, it’s also a prime space for connection that offers a vast array of groups that allow people to connect based on personal interests, profession, location, hobbies, and more.
LinkedIn is a relatively straightforward platform to use for professionals of almost all ages, and picking up how to navigate it can be done quite easily too.
While it doesn’t boast audio or video calls in the same way that a platform like Zoom might, it still allows for plenty of networking via texts, messages, and the exchange of information that could easily lead to a phone or Zoom call.
Employees can connect with alums from their alma mater no matter how far away they may be physically thanks to social media. Even though they may not know each other personally (yet), the shared knowledge of their school’s various aspects can serve as a starting point for building a connection.
Networking can sometimes be challenging because people feel as though the conversation doesn’t flow. Connecting with people from the same alma mater provides a simple way for employees to network without feeling like complete strangers and having nothing to talk about.
These connections may be personal, professional, or both.
Slack is an invaluable asset when it comes to remote work. Not only does it offer the opportunity for coworkers to connect and share ideas, but it also helps remote employees reach new contacts. While possibly a little trickier to navigate for older employees, with a little help, employees of any age can get the hang of Slack.
There are Slack communities for people with shared or even just similar interests, and just like on LinkedIn, these communities are great jumping-off points for connections.
With countless threads and groups that range from silly to confusing, this site really does have something for everyone. Reddit is a great site to explore interests, stumble across something interesting and engage with people because of it, ask for advice, and even find work.
There are plenty of subreddits for remote workers and those specifically looking to network, but there are also plenty on any topic that an employee might like to use to connect with others, such as Star Wars, makeup, or tennis.
Virtual co-working spaces
Virtual co-working spaces are online spaces where employees can work together simultaneously. An example is Remo, where there are rooms that are customizable and interactive. Users have avatars that can move from room to room, and can interact with each other in real-time.
Sococo lets its users create a virtual office (that can be decorated) for employees to work in rooms. It allows integration with Google Meet and Zoom.
Virtual co-working spaces can add an interesting visual and interactive touch to networking, and help employees feel like they’re engaging in real human interaction.
There are plenty of meetups that happen online for people who share the same interests, professions, or just want to socialize. These can be found as mentioned above, on social media, but they can also be found via an online tool called Meetup. It connects people in a local community who share similar interests and helps people meet virtually.
There is also the possibility that local organizations are having online events to take the place of events that were previously face-to-face, such as coffee mornings, weekly catch ups, and more. It’s worth it for employees to look for such events in their own specific locale.
Hobbies are one of the surest gateways to forming connections, but these hobbies don’t have to be skills. An employee may have played piano as a child and fancy taking it up again, so they could find online groups that teach piano classes and that could be their networking event.
On the other hand, perhaps there’s employees that like knitting but are more interested in company than instruction. Rather than a class, they might like an online knitting group with which they can chat.
These are another easy starting point for them to get Googling from.
Not all networking has to be for building work connections. Volunteering remotely is another great way to boost human interaction, but it’s rewarding and for a great cause as well. There are tools available such as VolunteerMatch, where all it takes is entering a location to get started.
Some examples of remote volunteering options are calling a nursing home and connecting with the elderly, helping people get registered in order to vote, and more.
Virtual networking events
Many seminars, conferences, trade shows, exhibitions, and more are being reworked for a digital platform. Business leaders and remote workers can both enjoy online opportunities such as these to keep informed and form connections.
At RemotePass, our talent lies in helping remote teams flourish. We know that remote networking might not be the same as networking in real life, but it can still be highly effective, efficient, and meaningful. With effort, time, and a little bit of searching, there are many opportunities that will present themselves for remote employees, regardless of their specific hobbies, skills, interests, or backgrounds.