How to Network in a Remote World

Working from home, whether temporarily or permanently, can be great. After all, who can say no to more freedom and flexibility—like working in your pajamas? But stepping out of the traditional office and into the world of remote work also means sacrificing a few things that are difficult to appreciate until they’re gone: like valuable networking opportunities.

Adapting to a new work lifestyle that involves less face-to-face interaction with people can be challenging for introverts and extroverts alike. Whether you’re a freelancer or an entrepreneur, starting out or in the middle of your career, you can’t afford not to network. It’s crucial to your success, not to mention your sanity. Most people need people!

While there are plenty of apps and platforms that help bridge communication between remote employees, they’re not always a replacement for in-person interaction. If you’re struggling to make connections from the confines of your home office, here are a few quick tips to help you stay involved socially, and make new connections that can help you grow professionally.

The trouble with networking in a remote world

While remote work is often seen as a luxury, there are a few pitfalls that employees need to navigate if they want to truly enjoy it. The first (and biggest) is welcoming the independence it offers, without losing the social element of direct human interaction. In other words: remote employees need to find new ways to connect with people, and make a concerted effort to engage them.

In the professional world, networking should happen continually over time. For workers in a traditional office setting, networking can come naturally, like through quick chats at the water cooler, company events, etc. For people who work remotely, though, networking involves a little extra effort. From happy hour meetups to industry-based lectures and seminars, there are countless opportunities to meet up with other professionals who are looking to expand their network, too. Getting out of your comfort zone and taking the time to connect with others is a win-win for everyone.

Keep in mind that it is possible to network effectively online. In some cases, it’s more convenient to form virtual connections with others in social or professional networks online. Just don’t fall into the trap of exclusively building your network virtually. Remember that in-person interaction is crucial in developing strong, meaningful connections.

Tips for networking outside the office

  • Trade the water cooler for cocktail events. Want to keep it casual? Try attending a happy hour meetup near you! These laidback events give everyone an opportunity to enjoy drinks and snacks as they socialize with other professionals. It’s the perfect low-stakes way to get to know other professionals on a personal level.

  • Look to virtual connections, like LinkedIn. Use your social media channels to connect with like minded professionals. LinkedIn is a great place to meet professionals, but you could also try Instagram or even join a public Slack channel. Always make sure your social media account is transparent about your line of work, your goals, and your skills—don’t be afraid to show others who you are.

  • Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. Networking is an integral part of success in today’s business environment, but not everyone likes doing it. Whether you’re attending an online webinar or you’re stopping by a happy hour meetup, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to new people. Find common ground to connect on and be authentic when making small talk.

  • Participate in activities and meetups. Look for opportunities to get together in-person and network in your area. From industry-specific seminars to career fairs, luncheons to community service groups, there are plenty of fun, productive ways to step away from your desk and socialize with peers and colleagues. You could also do something as simple as attend a webinar, where you can connect with likeminded people all over the world.

  • Be friendly and present at coworking spaces. Coworking spaces offer the ideal environment for in-person collaboration and interaction—they’re the perfect place to network and meet people both in your field and outside it. Check in to your nearest coworking space regularly and be sure to introduce yourself to other community members—you never know who you could meet!

Coworking spaces bring professionals together

Want to meet new people in your field? Looking to collaborate or bounce ideas off your colleagues? Or do you just want to get out of the house and enjoy some in-person facetime with your peers? Coworking spaces provide the perfect setting for doing all that, and much more.

Whether you’re a freelancer or you’re on a hybrid schedule with a blend of in-office and at-home days, coworking spaces can fill the networking void that many workers feel when they leave the office behind. They offer broad exposure to a diverse group of people who can expand your network. Just show up, grab a desk or office space that suits your needs, and roll up your sleeves in a collaborative, social environment that supports the work you’re doing.

Get out of your shell and make connections!

No matter how you choose to network, it’s good to get to know people. Your next connection could be someone who helps you further your career, or someone you form a strong friendship with. Just remember that these connections don’t make themselves: it takes effort to interact, especially if your new norm involves being working remotely by yourself.

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