If you’re among the 3.9 million Americans who have the freedom to work remotely, you already understand the freedom and flexibility it provides. While it’s one of the best perks to be able to work from home, remote workers do face certain challenges that in-office employees don’t.
Opportunities for meeting new people are limited when you aren’t required to step outside your front door each morning for work and co-mingle with coworkers, which is why it’s so important to take an active role in creating your own networking opportunities. Read on to discover our tips for professional networking as a remote worker.
Join a local coworking space
Though working from your home office and taking an occasional conference call in your comfiest clothes is great, it’s important to find other places to be productive. Coffee shops and cafes are great places to switch up your routine. However, if you want to increase the chance of making professional connections, it’s important to surround yourself with other people in your industry or who will motivate you to tackle your to-do list.
Many cities have coworking spaces that are either free or very inexpensive, and it’s worth it to spend time here once every week or two. To take your networking venture to the next level, host a lunch and learn at the local coworking spot. This is a great way to bring together your local remote worker community and showcase your expertise, while learning about what others in your area have to offer. Not only is a lunch and learn a great way to make connections, it’s also a great place to discover local business partnership opportunities.
Use Coworker to find and read reviews of coworking spaces in your area.
Utilize LinkedIn to connect with others in your industry
One of the best tools for professional networking in a virtual world is LinkedIn. If you’re struggling to make new connections in your career, spend some extra time on LinkedIn each day to see where you can make an impact. Establish yourself as a person who can add value by finding areas on LinkedIn where you can offer professional help. Look for ways to support, make connections with others, and offer advice to your peers on LinkedIn through feed posts, articles, and group forums.
For instance, if you see someone struggling to hire a virtual assistant, send over a helpful article on strategies for hiring a virtual team. Notice someone is looking for help designing a logo? Put them in touch with people you personally know who have a strong graphic design background, and offer to set up an email introduction. By offering genuine help, you will automatically create genuine connections, which is the first step to creating a meaningful professional relationship.
Widen your network through other social media channels
Social media channels serve as great tools for finding other like-minded professionals. If you live in a remote area where meetups and attending conferences isn’t feasible, take advantage of platforms like Instagram and Twitter to connect with others all around the world.
On these social media channels, connections are easier to make thanks to open profiles and the ability to follow and chat with others on the platform. A great place to start is to create an account specifically for your professional brand, and search for other accounts within the same professional field. To do this, simply search for posts with hashtags of interest and start following the accounts associated with those posts. In no time ,you’ll have dozens of potential new connections, so be sure to introduce yourself in a comment or direct message. You can maintain the virtual relationship by positively interacting with their posts. Be sure to create and post engaging content as well in order to attract others to engage with you.
Pursue the hobbies you love
The most authentic way to build new connections is by meeting people with common interests. By joining volunteer groups, running or biking groups, an art class, or other types of workshops, you automatically have something in common with the other participants, which makes jump-starting conversations about work more natural. Use Meetup to discover meetup groups in your area, and start making new connections today.
Stay in touch
It’s a great first step to make new connections, but they won’t add value to your professional career if you fail to maintain those relationships. It’s easy to default to introverted tendencies when you work from home (when was the last time you left the house other than to walk the dog?). It’s crucial to maintain and foster your newly made connections in authentic ways. Make a point once every few weeks or months to check back in with your business contacts and ask about recent projects they’ve tackled, what they’ve been struggling with professionally, and even set up a lunch meeting to exchange professional support.
By using these strategies, you’ll be networking from your home office in no time, and making career-enhancing relationships. Watch how your new connections will give your career the boost it needs, and get excited for all of the new opportunities that will come your way.