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6 New Ways to Build your Professional Network
(Even When Working From Home)

Home >  Blog >  Career >  6 New Ways to Build your Professional Network
(Even When Working From Home)

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. 

build a network

 

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. 

3. Analyse and revive your current network 

Take a close look at your current network, and take note of which professional connections you’re looking to grow. 

As a marketing coordinator, for example, you might be looking to ramp up your knowledge of and/or build a network with more people within the world of graphic design. Reach out to the people you know in those areas (or people within your network who you believe can connect you with those people) and share your goals with them. 

Remember to continue to foster relationships with the people already in your networking circle. We can’t always stay connected with everyone, but even a small recognition of a new promotion or a short birthday message can make a world of difference in leaving a lasting impression. 

Those who have converted to remote working have had to leave office parties and gifts behind, so even a thoughtful note or digital card can truly make a lasting impression.

 

4. Use (the right) social media, it’s your friend

Networking is easier than ever before — gone are the days of commuting across the city just to meet someone for a drink. 

Simply taking the time to regularly interact with strategic posts and articles online will open up many opportunities for building a network. 

It’s important, however, to be conscious of the platform and the content of your interactions, as professionals are more than aware of the scams and constant sellers present on social media. Don’t go looking for people simply to pitch or cold call, and avoid generic or automated messages. 

Instead, seek genuine and authentic ways of engaging with content; you’ll make a better impression and open more doors for actual long-term collaboration opportunities. 

Both LinkedIn and Facebook also offer the opportunity to join groups, which offer all kinds of business owners and professionals a space to share ideas and chain insight from others in the community.  LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups, so it’s important to evaluate the groups which will give you the most value, but Facebook doesn’t have a limit on the number of online communities you are allowed to join in on. The groups provide industry feedback, collaboration opportunities, and even various meet-ups in order to foster connections and network building. 

 

5. Offer your professional help

What goes around comes around. One of the best ways to nurture and build a thriving network is to offer to help others with your own expertise. 

If you provide a specific service or skill, offer to give a free session to those looking to learn more about your field. Create a group of co-workers and colleagues which meet regularly in order to talk about regular challenges and successes, and invite them to bring along a friend or colleague as well. Be on the lookout for potential mentorship opportunities with starting career professionals looking to gain skills and experience. 

By genuinely offering help and advice, you are inviting the same collaborative spirit within others.

 

6. Start a new course of study

Enrolling in a course or degree programme is a great way to inject fresh air into your professional network. You are surrounding yourself with like-minded peers who are both interested in the same professional development as you, and are committed to growing their professional opportunities. 

Whether the course is online or in person, make sure before starting that there are multiple opportunities to meet classmates, professors, and other industry professionals. EDHEC’s programmes offer extensive networking opportunities for students and alumni alike; countless online and offline professional networking activities, the EDHEC Vox initiative, and over 500 annual alumni events are only some of the things EDHEC puts into place to ensure lasting connections within its learning community.