Networking is important, even if you work remotely. Not only does it expose you to professional opportunities, it also helps you establish and cultivate important relationships that can help you navigate your career. But networking can be tough — even more so if you work from home because you're not in the habit of constant interaction. Here are some networking tips on how you can cultivate an active and supportive professional network if you work from home.
Basically, there are three networking channels you have when working remotely:
All of these channels can contribute valuable connections to your network.
If you ever interact with people in person, you should have some sort of physical piece of paper that clearly states your name, company, position, and contact information. This makes it easy to share your contact information with the people you meet. You should also add this information to your email signature and any work-based profiles you have, like LinkedIn.
For face-to-face networking or live interactions, you should prepare a 30-60 second introduction. This should include information about who you are and what you do. For online networking, save a written version of your elevator pitch as a template in your email or wherever you keep notes. This will save you time when you write emails to new connections (or are reminding connections of who you are!).
According to Anna Marie Trester of Career Linguist, pocket examples are "little stories that exemplify how you work, how you think, and what you are passionate about." These come in handy when you are interviewing or speaking with someone who doesn't know you.
A target network is a narrow category of connections you would like to make. This can be a list of individuals you admire, companies where you would like to work, or potential clients. When possible and appropriate, share this list with the people you meet. You never know who might be able to connect you with an individual or company on that list.
Besides having a very clear idea of who you would like to connect with, you should also have a very concrete idea of what you need from those connections. Also included in this category is what you want to get out of networking — besides connections. Reflecting on your goals will help motivate you to get the most out of your networking experience.
Call, email, meet for coffee... whatever you decide to do, you have to follow up with the connections you make. Having a set process for following up means that you won't forget to email that important connection you made while at a conference.
By using these networking tips and building your networking toolkit, you'll be more proactive in developing lasting, meaningful connections — in addition to doing your work.
Want to apply these skills a real life situation? Join us for our monthly Networkplaceless, a virtual networking event that fosters a community of remote workers.