Since a global health crisis forced the world to stay at home, many people have permanently forgone the office environment to pass the workday in their home offices (or on their dining room tables).
With a mass move towards remote working and less in-person presence, it might seem impossible to build a network that will really last. But the reality is quite the opposite. Higher levels of online connectivity and a wide-spread availability of digital communication tools have made networking much more accessible to professionals at all career levels and within all industries.
Here are five key strategies to build your network, even while working from home:
1. Be consistent in meeting new people
While seemingly obvious, one of the key steps to building a professional network is by increasing the number of people you “meet” on a regular basis.
Set a goal to meet a minimum number of new people each month, taking into account your availability, workload and ultimate objectives.
Rather than simply eating lunch or having a coffee, turn a break into a Zoom hang-out with someone new (see tip #4 for more inspiration). Afterwards, remember to always follow up with a personal note or message about your interaction.
Not all of the people you meet will become a lasting and permanent part of your network, but being consistent is key to expanding your personal and professional connections.
2. Branch out to new groups and organizations
A great way to expand both your social and professional circles is by joining a new group.
Professional development forums and seminars will both expand your knowledge and expose you to other individuals in your sector.
Joining a charity or alma mater board will not only give you the fulfilment of serving the community, but will also have the added benefit of exposing you to other people with the same interests and motivations.
Even something seemingly trivial such as a book club exposes you to like-minded people and potentially new networking possibilities.
Many events are now held online, making regular participation both easier and more accessible. Business conferences and expo fairs alike have gone virtual with their programming and networking components, hosting on platforms such as Eventbrite, Meetup, Linkedin and even Facebook.
When looking for online events and activities, make sure to check the structure; interactive events with breakout rooms and opportunities for personal discussion provide a much higher opportunity for building a network. Don’t forget to exchange contact information with anyone you connect with.