Working remotely can feel like a blessing and a curse. In some respects, you get to work from the comfort of your own home without having to worry about traffic in your daily commute, distractions at the office or rushing home after a long day to catch your favorite series or practice some self-care before you go to bed to do it all over again in the morning. You could work in your pajamas all day if you really wanted (though we recommend getting dressed to feel good and produce better work!). And you can hopefully spend a little more time with your loved ones, though working from home still means, you know, working.
But working from home isn't always all it's cracked up to be. Sometimes, it can feel hugely isolating. When you're without a team surrounding you, you're left with only yourself to keep yourself motivated and on track. You rely more heavily on your own problem-solving skills. And you have to be your own pilot and co-pilot while navigating a lot of the questions that inevitably arise throughout your work day, when you'd perhaps otherwise turn to a colleague or manager for guidance.
That's why it's important to keep up with your networking efforts even while working remotely. Networking can help you to feel part of something bigger when you feel alone in your work. It can help you to build a community of support on which to rely when you have questions or concerns. And it can help you to find advocates, motivators and tokens to your career success. Networking can even help to land you your dream job or find partners with whom to pursue your passion project more seriously.
With that said, here are five simple ways to stay on top of networking while working remotely.
1. Schedule virtual coffee meetings.
Just because you're not in the same place or don't have the means to meet in person doesn't mean that you can't meet with others online. If there's someone whose brain you want to pick or with whom you want to catch up, invite them to chat over a virtual video call. Pour yourselves a cup of coffee to enjoy during your conversation, and treat that informational interview, colleague catch-up or other type of virtual meeting with the same professionalism that you'd treat an in-person meeting. You might even decide to make these coffee meetings a regular occurrence!
2. Participate in online conferences.
There are tons of online conferences that you can join to stay abreast of what's happening in your industry. You can search conference archives like eventbrite to find a whole list of virtual conferences — from online gatherings for women in business to virtual salesforce community events and tech summits that tap into those video tech platforms. Whatever industry in which you work, the chances are that there's an online conference for you!
3. Attend virtual career fairs.
Career fairs are great places to put yourself out there, share your skills and experiences with hiring managers and find out about potential opportunities with companies you love. But if you can't attend one in person, you can certainly attend one online! (Plus virtual career fairs are generally cheaper than regular career fairs, besides the whole host of other benefits!)
In fact, Fairygodboss even hosts virtual career fairs itself. Through the site, you can read about who Fairygodboss career fairs are for, who you'll be able to with at these career fairs (and how you'll be able to keep in contact with them), any information you'll need to download or install to participate and other details about the virtual career fair. These career fairs can help you land your next job, so missing out on them would be a major mistake!
4. Join online career groups.
Just because you're working alone from home or elsewhere doesn't mean that you're in this alone! There are tons of groups for people who work remotely that you can join. There are also tons of groups for your general industry that you can join. Search Facebook, for example, to find groups that suit your interests. If you're a freelancer, you might consider checking out the Freelancing Females community, where women ask questions and share advice and opportunities. If you work in technology, you might consider checking out the WIT Global Women in Technology community, where women share resources and, together, unpack the reality of working in a male-dominated field. If you're a work-from-home mother, there are groups like the Work From Home Mom's Networking community.
Fairygodboss also offers groups that you can join. Popular groups include the FGB Official Job Seeker group, the Women's Wellness group and the Burnout Survival group. You can join any group on Fairygodboss to participate in active discussions on relevant topics, share resources and articles that resonate with you, and spread encouragement and empowerment.
The point is that, if you search for a group in your career field or niche online, the chances are that you'll find a community in which you fit.
5. Engage in community forums.
Forums exist for a reason — and that's to provide real people's real answers to the real questions by other real people. One surefire way to network is to be authentic in asking and fielding questions. And one place you can do just that is right here on Fairygodboss!
That's right, Fairygodboss has its own community feed where women come together to share career-related concerns, ask questions related to their work and lives outside of it, and share advice with one another about how to keep on keeping on when it can feel like the odds are against us. You'd be surprised how many women chime into these online conversations — many with whom you can connect outside the platform, as well. Because that's what networking is all about!
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.