COVID-19 and the shift to remote work (and remote life) has caused professional networking to become completely virtual. While remote networking has always been an option, now it’s our only option. Here are our top five tips for successful networking while remote.
1. Make a list of people in your network
Your network is likely much larger than you think it is! Make a list of former colleagues, classmates, teammates, friends of friends, etc. that you think it would be beneficial to reach out to - whether it’s their experience, their role, or the company they work for that appeals to you. Since most people are working remotely and don’t have a ton of extracurriculars going on, now is the perfect time to re-connect.
2. Utilize LinkedIn
Once you have your list, head to LinkedIn. As you may already know, LinkedIn is a great resource for professional networking. However, before you begin your outreach, make sure your LinkedIn profile presents the best version of yourself. We recommend double checking the following: an updated professional photo, your current (or most recent) job title, an accurate and up to date job history, and relevant skills. Additionally, don’t forget to fill out the summary section at the top of your profile with a brief bio about yourself.
When sending out invitations to expand your network, always include a personalized message. This intro message should be short and sweet, and if you are connecting with a 2nd or 3rd connection, make sure to reference the mutual connection you share.
3. Join online networking groups
Now is also a great time to consider joining online networking groups. Start by looking for alumni, industry, or interest groups on LinkedIn or Facebook, or even just doing a Google search. Aside from social media platforms, there are now virtual networking opportunities on sites like MeetUp, where once in-person events have now transitioned to virtual. Outside of official groups, you can also make professional connections by participating in online forums or chats; think about Reddit, StackOverflow, or other sites specific to your industry. Lastly, industry publications and podcasts often have a dedicated space for their community to connect via LinkedIn groups or Slack/Discord channels.
4. Participate in online classes
Taking a remote class is not only beneficial for upskilling and advancing your career, but can also be a great tool for networking. For example, when you take a class through a program like General Assembly, you will be invited to a Slack channel with your classmates and teacher to ask questions and participate in group discussions. Once the class is over, don’t forget about the relationships you made - connect with the people you “virtually” met in class. Just like that, you’ve added another layer to your network filled with people that have similar interests as you!
5. Schedule virtual coffee chats
Just because most of us are now working and living remotely, it doesn't mean you can’t meet (virtually) for coffee! Invite your connection to a video call where you both chat over a cup of coffee or tea. This is a thoughtful and low-stress way to catch up with an old colleague or meet a new connection. These virtual coffee chats are a great way to bring familiar comfort to this new remote way of meeting with people.
Whether remote or in-person, professional networking is about building and maintaining relationships over time. Be proactive and don’t wait until you need to find a new job to start networking. Use this time of wide-spread remote work and remote life to make meaningful connections that will last throughout your career.