I’ve had a lot of people ask me recently for advice on how to effectively network while working from home. It’s a valid question because in my opinion nothing will replace an office environment that fuels unplanned interactions with peers or managers. When you work in an office chances are greater that you’ll have an opportunity to network more naturally whether it’s attending a meeting or bumping into someone in passing. These types of office occurrences feel more natural than trying to schedule a networking opportuning under the guise of a meeting.
First thing to keep in mind is that networking is all about trust. Trust is the foundation to a successful relationship. If there’s no trust, the relationship will ultimately fail. Networking provides many opportunities both personally and professionally but if you’re perceived as not trustworthy, those opportunities will be limited.
If you want to build a more meaningful connection and rapport with your network / community, it’s important to understand what it is that you want out of this professional relationship. Knowing who and why you want to connect with someone is the first step to establishing a long term mutually beneficial relationship Are you looking to gain more visibility to attract an influential sponsor? Move to a different division? Ask for a recommendation? Etc. Whatever your intention is, you’ll need to put together some ideas on how to approach them. By doing this, you will not only have a plan but clarity on where to start. A simple spreadsheet which includes the person’s name, job title, social media accounts would be a great tool to keep track of your connections and progress.
Be of service
Think of ways you can add value to your network whether it’s an interesting article that you think they might appreciate, someone you think they should meet and connect with, or maybe a resource you found helpful and want to pass along.
A few months ago, I attended a webinar that I found incredibly helpful with organizing my email inbox. The webinar promised taking your unmanageable inbox down to a manageable handful of emails. I was hooked. I have always been super organized but during the pandemic I let my inbox get up to 10,000 emails (mostly read just not organized). I learned a few tips and tricks and in a short time I was down to 35 emails in my inbox! I loved this resource so much that I forwarded this on to a number of people in my network whom I knew would love this an find value in it! Also, I reached out to the presenter and thanked her for her webinar and we connected on LinkedIn.
Armed with your spreadsheet tool (noted above) go ahead and start following those you want to network with. And not only follow but engage with them; like and or comment on their posts. This is a great way to stay not only visible to your network but also be supportive.
Your professional network or what I like to call “brand community” will be one of your biggest assets in establishing a successful career so it’s important to continue to widen and nurture it.
Do you have any networking tips that have really works for you? Share them here!