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Working remotely can offer the world in terms of location and flexibility. It can also make you feel like you've been banished to Siberia when it comes to opportunities to meet and interact with other professionals, both in your current company and outside of it.
According to HubSpot, a whopping 85% of jobs are filled through networking. It makes sense to spend some time and effort cultivating your professional network.
In fact, according to CNBC, 70% of jobs are never published publicly. These numbers are staggering when you think about all of the resumes you've carefully curated and uploaded into a nameless, faceless applicant tracking system (ATS) over the years.
If you're already cringing inside because you hate networking, you're not alone. But if you're a remote worker and don't get much or any face-to-face time with other professionals in your industry, it's time to tackle those fears.
Managing your mindset is a crucial first step as you construct your networking plan. If you approach people with feelings of unease or resentment, it will show up in your results. Instead, focus on how you can change how you think about networking, even for just thirty minutes, so that meeting new people turns into an enjoyable and valuable experience. People respond to openness and excitement.
Even if you aren't looking for a new role, networking internally becomes even more critical when working remotely. Many remote workers feel isolated and worry about how being out of sight will impact their opportunities for advancement. Many of us learn valuable managerial skills from watching them in action, and it's often easier to showcase your accomplishments when you have a captive audience. As a result, remote workers are less likely to be promoted even though they are usually more productive than their on-site counterparts.
Here are ten ways to network as a remote employee.
Whether on LinkedIn or another niche site, crafting your online profile and managing your brand is integral to navigating the business world. Ask insightful questions or comment on others' posts, and don't be afraid to send a follow-up email asking to meet up for coffee if it's appropriate. Don't overlook the leaders within your current organization—connect and follow them the way you would external contacts.
If you are starting in the professional world, this may include reviewing your family connections, professors and friends' parents. Some people are natural connectors. Who of your circle is the most dynamic, innovative, and exciting? Reach out to them first.
Minimize the "out of sight out of mind" problem by remaining visible whenever possible. Your living room is your boardroom, so dress and act as such.
Live, face-to-face interaction is still optimal. Psych yourself up beforehand with intentional thoughts, and if you find networking draining, keep the events short to focus on projecting confidence and interest. Speed networking events can help you nail your elevator speech.
Attend events (see point above), subscribe to their newsletters and contact the authors of pieces that you find interesting and informative. Most professional associations are volunteer-led. So get active and watch your network and access grow!
Pay attention and take notes when your organizational leaders communicate with staff about the state of the business. Consider how your role fits into the strategic goals and initiatives the company leaders are driving.
Find like-minded people and invite them to a virtual event. Create a skeleton agenda of ice-breakers and introductions and see where you find synergy.
Ask peers, managers or leadership from different departments to meet over Zoom for coffee. Ask them about their career path and their work.
Making offers to help others can be rewarding both on its own and as a rapport-building strategy. Just make sure it's coming from a place of service.
On the other side of the coin, asking for help can be challenging even for confident people, but showing vulnerability and asking for advice, an introduction or mentorship can be an excellent exercise to move past the feelings of discomfort that often accompany change.
If people are receptive to connecting with you online, over zoom or in person, follow up with genuine interest and you will start enjoying a new sphere of influence that can open all the right doors to you.
But, just like you don't get all of your nutrition from one food group, a new opportunity is more likely to crop up if we cultivate a diverse network. So, get out there and meet some people!
This article was written by a Fairygodboss Contributor.
Jacquelyn Lloyd is an Executive Business Coach and HR Consultant specializing in creating developing people and culture in hybrid and remote workplaces. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.
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