When most people think of networking, they think of going to conferences, trade shows, meetings or happy hour events. Due to recent circumstances involving COVID-19, the number of employees working remote has drastically increased. Many people are wondering how they can still make meaningful connections and grow their network in a time when large in-person group meetings are no longer allowed and annual conference have moved virtual.
Things are changing rapidly, but there are technologies, platforms and solutions available. Here are five tips to grow your network while working from home:
1. Build your network through social media
Social media platforms are very popular with people of all ages, demographics, and industries. While some platforms appear to be more personal and others like LinkedIn and Twitter can be used for more professional purposes. Engage with others in your social networks. Like, comment and share posts that you think are meaningful. Think about adding connections to your network that you have mutual contacts with. If you want to connect over social media, make sure your social media account demonstrates who you are and is transparent about your role, your goals and your skills.
2. Attend online events
If in-person events are no longer a part of your life then start saying yes to online events. With the rise of stay at home orders, and more people working from home many annual events have moved to an online platform. Additionally, in order for professionals to stay connected and up-to-date on best practices, more and more online events have emerged. Search your social networks, professional organizations, and Eventbrite to find the events that are most interesting to you and attend! If you are looking to make the most out of a virtual conference specifically, take a look at these top tips in a recent blog post: Making the most out of a virtual conference.
3. Join professional networking groups/communities
The social media platforms you use for networking will have tons of groups and communities available for you to join based on your job title, location, industry, interests, etc. Do some research into groups on platforms like LinkedIn, to find the communities best suited to your needs. Once you’re in, make your name known by engaging with other members of the group. Share relevant articles, comment on others’ posts and generally get involved with the conversations that interest you
4. Share valuable content
People like people who help them. Look for ways to help, to support, or to make valuable connections for people in your network. What topics are interesting or important to you? Posting thought provoking content and articles on social media can be helpful in growing your professional network. With consistency on your part, others in your network will begin to look forward to your content.
5. Use the network you already have
This may sound obvious, but more than likely among people you know, you may not be connected virtually. Be sure to connect with people you know, but aren't following on social media platforms. Using your high school or college network is now easier to do than ever before. Search your alumni network, groups you are a part of, etc. to continue to grow your network virtually. You can also use your network to connect with other mutual friends that you've briefly spoke with or met, but don't necessarily have a solid relationship with, yet. And one of the best and easiest things you can do for your network while working from home is to nurture your existing connections. People will remember who reached out to them to check in!
For now, gone are the days of shaking hands or meeting in person. Expanding one’s professional network is something that should happen continually over time. Now, more than ever, it's more convenient, if not ideal, to form a virtual connection with a fellow professional or peer all from your home office. Networking from home isn’t just a back up for when face-to-face interactions can’t take place, it is a valuable and efficient way of making connections. Take time to master it now and your network will benefit from it long after stay at home orders have ended.
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