The world has changed significantly over the last year in many ways. One of the most prevalent is the shift businesses have made toward remote working. While this approach to operations had been steadily making headway before COVID-19, the necessity for social distancing during the pandemic caused an unprecedented jump.
As more businesses and their employees have discovered the productivity and lifestyle advantages of remote work, there are signs that the practice will continue even after the pandemic. A recent study found that 54% of those surveyed who are currently working from home would want to keep doing so.
That’s not to say that this new remote world is without its challenges. Being able to work in the same environment as other people has its practical, emotional, and collaborative advantages. Not the least of which is the ability to effectively network, forging connections that can ensure your career maintains a positive trajectory. It can certainly seem as though there aren’t the same opportunities available when you work remotely.
The good news is that you are definitely not powerless to act in this scenario. Let’s take a closer look at where you can place your focus.
Remote working can occasionally feel a little isolating, as you’re operating separately from the dynamic workspace that a company provides to its in-house workers. This makes it even more important that you explore opportunities to expand your professional circle. Attending events — industry conventions, seminars, even training courses — can be an enriching and effective way to grow your network.
Many businesses and remote workers are understandably exercising caution about potential exposure to COVID-19. As such, you’ll find that a lot of conventions and conferences are being held remotely for the time being. One upside to this is you’ll be able to attend events that were previously geographically impractical. However, to make the most of these, you must make efforts to get involved. Don’t just attend panels or lectures; spend time at the connected social events. In the case of remote conferences, look into access to the breakout rooms, or Discord chat rooms that often substitute after-parties, meetings, and lunches.
While simply attending such events can be effective, it can be useful to go a little further. Where possible, contact organizers to see if you can play a role in running the events. They often have planning boards you can join, and in many cases require moderators for panels or online chat rooms. This can give you connections to a wider range of people in your industry, and be an excellent opportunity to build meaningful relationships with professionals who can put you in contact with expert guests and industry leaders attending the event. The key is to look for opportunities to make an impression, and have positive conversations.
It would certainly be accurate to say that social media can be something of a minefield. However, it’s still one of the most important networking tools you have at your disposal. As a remote worker, your approach to social media can keep you in the loop about changes in your industry, help you stay abreast of new opportunities, and discover positive relationships.
Your first step is to identify which is the most appropriate platform for you to utilize. This depends on your networking goals. LinkedIn is likely to be your main focus if you are strictly planning to seek out job offers. A lot of people make the mistake of treating it as a static resume host. You can make yourself more discoverable and attractive to connections on LinkedIn if you take the time to research and insert relevant keywords for positions you are interested in, and adapting your headline to make it more eye-catching. Remember to also share content that is relevant to your industry, to better demonstrate your expertise and interest in the field.
Twitter, on the other hand, is geared more toward conversational connections. You can certainly share content, but this isn’t the primary focus of the medium. Reach out to peers and industry leaders in your field, commenting on their posts, and engaging in dialogues with one another. You should also keep a regular schedule of posting information and ideas on your timeline that encourages peers to interact with you. If you operate in a highly visual industry, with your work revolving around creative projects, Instagram or YouTube is likely to be the most suitable platform. They allow you to make your images or videos the focus and gain attention from those who are impressed with your work, and interested in your processes.
One of the best ways to support your networking goals is by seeking out a community and integrating yourself as part of it. Don’t just make your networking transactional — put in the effort to really be a part of something. Build meaningful relationships with people who are in a similar situation, and provide mutual support.
This starts with your immediate team at work. If there is conflict of any kind among your team, it can be difficult — if not impossible — for you to be productive. Your team may not be on the same page about project objectives, or they may have access to team management software but not using it. As such, you each must take the time to both train and require teams to use team management software to keep communicating with each other. Perhaps arrange for social chat channels to be set up on these so that you can maintain your bonds and support one another through difficulties.
However, it’s also imperative to set up your own network independent of the company. One great way to do that is to work occasionally at a local coworking space. There, you'll meet other remote workers in your area. This can also be a venue through which to explore the potential for joint yet independent projects that you can use to enhance and showcase one another’s professional skills.
Networking while a remote worker isn’t always easy, but it’s far from impossible. The advances of our technological age have provided access to online events as well as more traditional conventions and conferences. It is also important to embrace the aptest social media platform for your networking goals, and also seek out communities for mutual support. It takes a little extra effort, but networking as a remote worker can be an enriching experience.
About the Author
Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but business and technology topics are his favorite. When he isn't writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.