Remote Networking the Right Way
As a remote worker, it can be hard to build and expand your professional network. A good portion of your working time is spent on a computer in different places, or maybe one central location, and perhaps not interacting face-to-face with others as often as necessary to create a solid network. Creating and upholding a network does require effort despite your working status, but there are ways to expand your contact base.
First, start with your existing friends and coworkers. Meet up for a coffee, or grab lunch together. If you like this person and/or they are a member of your profession, they likely know people that could benefit you. Ask for an introduction. If you cannot meet in person, you can ask to be introduced on LinkedIn or Facebook using their Suggest features. Having a mutual friend gives you an easy conversation starter (or try these tips), and soon enough, the conversation will be flowing.
If you’re location is a place that you are not familiar with, or if you already feel you know the professionals in your area, there are other outlets for you to get connected. First, take a look at your local Chamber of Commerce, which will often have a group for local professionals to meet. These groups will often post about other ways to get involved, such as nonprofit organizations looking for volunteers or board members. Joining a philanthropic organization that appeals to you will give you the opportunity to connect with others like yourself, and if this group coincides with your career path, this may present the chance to meet others in your field.
If there is no group like this, why don’t you start up your own? MeetUp is a website that allows users to make their own local organizations for any purpose under the sun. Those seeking to participate in the community more can go to this site and find your club. If interested, they will contact you, giving an easy way to open communication, and being the leader/founder in an organization is always a résumé booster!
A great way to establish your own credibility and expand your network is through blogging. Creating a blog about your topic of work and posting even once a week can demonstrate your expertise and give you an opening platform to reach out to other bloggers that write about your field. This can be asking for tips or advice, requesting an interview for your blog, or asking for him or her to write a guest post. This could be a mutually-benefitting relationship, so it is likely that the blogger will be willing to provide you with some sort of assistance and be open to building a professional relationship.
As a professional in the twenty-first century, odds are, you have a LinkedIn account. When you signed up, you most likely joined several groups related to your career path, but what have you done recently on these groups? Probably not a lot, if anything. Make it your goal to check into your LinkedIn groups once per week, and contribute in some way. Ask a question, comment on a post, or share an image that others may enjoy. These groups were set up to act like those local professional organizations but on a much larger geographic scale. These groups have the ability to connect you with an endless amount of professionals in your field from around the world, and you owe it to yourself to take advantage of these groups and build these connections.
Similar to LinkedIn, many social media sites present the opportunity for users to connect. Facebook has public groups for any topic, Twitter and Instagram use hashtags and have list-making capabilities, and Pinterest separates posts by boards and topics. Social media sites allow users to connect with any professional, celebrity, blogger, writer, athlete, or average Joe. Reach out to any person or group you come across on social media, and try to make new connections. Whether it’s a Skype call, phone conversation, or coffee meeting, what is the harm in trying? Social media can also give you a way to reconnect with former and current people in your network. Becoming a friend or follower of their accounts is a first step, but checking in on their lives via their status updates or on their birthday is an easy way to open the door to new conversation.
As with any relationship, keeping tabs on your network members is essential. Once a week, make an effort to connect in some way with your contacts. This can be a “like” on social media, a phone call or text, or meeting for lunch. Show your contacts that you appreciate their camaraderie and want to keep your relationship strong, and he or she will reciprocate. Creating these strong relationships will prove beneficial in your professional career.
Overall, networking isn’t hard, and it is extremely manageable as a remote worker. All it takes is a little courage to make the first effort. Start with a simple introduction, and the rest is history.