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7 Remote Networking Ideas to Build Your Professional Network from Anywhere

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7 Remote Networking Ideas to Build Your Professional Network from Anywhere
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7 Remote Networking Ideas to Build Your Professional Network from Anywhere

Let’s talk about networking. It’s something most entrepreneurs dread in its best form – at a startup office somewhere, light on snacks and heavy on small talk. But networking is an essential part of the process when you’re trying to kick off or grow your business! As the saying goes: it’s not about what you know but who you know.

But like many things, there was a significant change in how people networked following the pandemic. As many teams downsized and transitioned to more remote work, there was also a switch to networking events where business owners, prospective employees, partners, investors, etc., met one another. For this largely remote workforce, networking switched to webinars and virtual conferences – though we’d like to expand the horizons of all that is possible!

Want to learn about the best ways to grow your network with remote networking? In this article, we’re exploring the importance of networking and sharing seven ideas for how to grow your professional network – from home or anywhere.

Why does having a professional network matter

Why does having a professional network matter?

Networking is vital at any stage of your career. A healthy professional network opens opportunities, helps your business grow, and offers much-needed support and guidance as you navigate your professional life.

If you’re early in your career, you might network to develop connections beyond your university campus. For those who started out in remote work, networking might be the only way to really get new contacts and start your growth. If you’re more established, you might network when looking to move into a new role. Seeking employees or investors for your own company. Looking for potential clients or trying to learn more about your target audience. But, like most things – it’s much better to network before you actually need something. That’s one good reason to start now.

Even if there’s no immediate outcome, go to the event. Join the channel. Support other people on their journey. And say yes to opportunities. By investing some extra energy into remote networking upfront, the relationships will be more established when you’re actively seeking something.

7 Ideas for Remote Networking

7 Ideas for Remote Networking

You might think of remote networking as simply attending virtual networking events. That’s certainly one way to build your network from home, but there are a lot of opportunities you might not have considered yet. Here are some remote networking implementations we’ve found impactful for building your professional network.

1. Attend Online Events

Let’s start with the obvious. Online events! Online events for remote networking could include virtual webinars, conferences, panels, workshops, Instagram Live, etc. And they’re a great way to connect with people with whom you share interests or industry.

Some online events are explicitly for networking, but you’ll find most online events also have some networking component, whether it’s a Q&A at the end of the session, breakout rooms to meet participants in a smaller group, or a chat that runs throughout the event.

To find online events that help you with your professional development, the best places to start looking are MeetUp, LinkedIn, or Eventbrite. These platforms are designed with event functionality, so it’s easy to search, filter, and choose an event that fits your interests. You can search by keywords related to your industry or check out events hosted by companies you follow.

If no events pique your interest immediately, follow some event hosts or groups to get notified about future events.

2. Follow up with event hosts and participants

When you attend an online event, not only do you get the value of the event. The other benefit is that you get on the event host’s radar! There’s really no better way to connect with experts or businesses you admire. If there’s a company you’ve wanted to work with or a partner you’ve wanted to meet, show up for events they’re hosting or speaking at and ask meaningful questions.

When you get in touch after the event, connect over the subject matter or address a question they asked. Be specific about what you’re asking for (with a consultation call, an interview, etc.). Even if “nothing comes of it,” every connection is an opportunity to establish yourself further or meet new people. Keep an open mind.

3. Join online groups and communities

The tools teams use for internal communication – like Slack, Discord, or Facebook groups – can serve another critical role as remote networking tools. These are often invite or member-only communities centered around a topic or niche. Because of this community element, these forums invite more connection, support, and exchange than a more public forum like Reddit, job boards, etc.

Some places you might look for these communities?

  • Groups of which you’re a member or alumni
  • Tools or software you use for your business
  • Experts that you follow online
  • Past events that you’ve attended
  • Search for keywords of interest + “Slack channel” or “membership community”

Like any community, being a good member of an online group requires giving more than you take. Start by observing the group norms and seeing how people communicate and comment. Rather than making requests, make an effort first to add value. Answer people’s questions and give recommendations. When you ask for support, you’ll already have a better idea of what to expect and some credibility in the community as a contributor.

4. Start Engaging on Social Media

We couldn’t discuss remote networking without bringing social media into the picture. LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Reddit, and Facebook (to name a few) can play a vital role in connecting with other people with shared interests or skills. And like other online groups and communities, the point is that you contribute more than you take. Rather than just posting, the goal with social media should be to engage, answer questions, and start conversations.

Each social media platform works differently, which means your approach to networking on each channel will also vary.

Let’s take Instagram as an example.

Your business may use Instagram as a portfolio of your work. But engaging with others is the best way to build a relationship on this channel. Contribute consistent and relevant comments on posts and stories of your admired thought leaders or businesses. Feature your clients or partners and how great they are to work with. Instagram is a channel for creating connections, so be sure to engage with your followers and add value.

At the same time you’re engaging, build out your own profile. Highlight your expertise and grow your audience. When you have an ask – something you’re promoting, selling, or a request – your audience will be more likely to return the favor.

Other networks

Before investing your energy in social networking, it’s important to learn the ways that the platform operates and adapt your approach accordingly. Understand who uses it, why you’re there, and how it can add value to your business. And regardless of the platform, make as much effort to engage as you do to share.

A note.

You’ve probably noticed by now that managing social media can be a lot of work. Rather than trying to build your presence on all of them, choose just one to two platforms where you’ll focus your efforts. This can be based both on your goals for remote networking and which platforms you prefer.

For example, a B2B company might do better on LinkedIn while a company selling a unique product might benefit from growing a following on TikTok where they can share fun video clips and build out their brand with a younger audience.

Nurture your connections over time, engage, add value, and see what can come of it.

5. Access your own network

While you might not think you have a professional network, there’s an excellent chance you have more contacts than you know. As you focus on remote networking, here are a few ways to reengage and access this network.

The first and easiest thing you can do is talk to people or post on your channels – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, or however else you communicate. Let people know what you’re working on or looking for! There’s a good chance that even some of your close friends or family aren’t entirely sure, and they might be able to refer you when they know better. When you post, offer a clear call to action (book a call, refer a client, follow on LinkedIn) so they can follow up with you if they’re interested or able to help somehow.

You could also benefit from your existing network by expanding your network on LinkedIn. Go to alum groups, past employer pages, search by your hometown, or find old friends living in your new city. Due to LinkedIn’s connection feature, doing this can help you find inroads to opportunities you didn’t have before. LinkedIn is also a great platform for supporting others, exchanging information, and establishing yourself as a thought leader amongst your peers. Even if the people in your network don’t need what you’re offering now, there’s a chance they will later. Hopefully, they’ll remember where to go!

6. Host your own event

Are you an expert in something? Consider packaging your skillset or insights into an online event. While most remote networking ideas in this list are about being proactive and reaching out to others, hosting an event can draw potential connections to you.

Your event could be a webinar, workshop, or any other format discussed above. While an event can be elaborate, it can be as simple as a one-hour live session. The key is that you deliver value.

We could write a whole article on how to host an online event, but here are some of the basics you’ll want to consider.

  • Start by understanding your goals for the event – is it to become a thought leader? Drive sales? Grow your email list?
  • Get clear on your brand and target audience. Who is this event for, and how will you position yourself to them?
  • Create content for the event – is it relevant, interesting, and useful? Does it connect to your goals? Practice.
  • Plan your event – choose the event date, platform, budget, sponsors or partners, equipment, etc. More on event project management here.
  • Promote your event – market your event to your target audience, collect signups, and build anticipation.
  • Follow-up with event guests – how will you follow up with guests after the event? What offers can you have in place to continue engaging with them?

While hosting your event is probably the most time-intensive type of remote networking, it’s also high visibility. If done correctly, a self-hosted event can yield a high return on investment.

7. Volunteer

If we haven’t said it enough already, networking is about contribution. Volunteering lets you put your skills towards something important to you while also being a low-barrier-to-entry opportunity to build your network around topics you’re interested in, build your portfolio, or pivot into something new.

Some volunteer opportunities may be in person, but plenty of others you can do from home with professional skills. Check sites like Catchafire, VolunteerMatch, or Idealist for organizations seeking professionals with your skills. You can contribute as much as you have the capacity for – a 1-hour call or building out an entire website – and there are projects addressing just about any topic you can think of. Find causes adjacent to your industry or search by skill type to find projects where you can further develop your skills.

Conclusion

Networking will always be vital to building and maintaining your healthy professional network. That’s true whether you’re making contacts for the first time or finding that you need some new connections for your next stage of professional growth.

The form networking takes, however, is entirely up to you. And with the rise of remote networking, there are fewer barriers to connecting with anyone. Gone are the days when you had to travel hundreds of miles for a conference – now, you can join the live stream instead.

That’s not to say in-person networking doesn’t still have its advantages—more personal contact, less screen fatigue, etc. But if your circumstances don’t allow it, consider this an invitation to build remote networking into your routine. Where there used to be time zone, geography, language, ticket caps, etc. in the way, there are now opportunities to connect from anywhere. Use that to your advantage, and see where it takes you.

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