Four ways to improve your online networking game when working from home – Metro.co.uk - Freelance Rack

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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Four ways to improve your online networking game when working from home – Metro.co.uk

a drawing of someone using a laptop near their children
With more of us working outside the office, virtual networking has taken on a renewed importance (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

It’s no secret that networking is fundamental to your success.

Strong connections can be the deciding factor for landing a new job, promotion, or finding necessary resources.

In order to stay ahead of the game, it’s best to incorporate this skill into your life and not to view it as a one-off task when you need something.

Attending events was always a safe option for meeting people, but following the global pandemic and subsequent new ways of working, we need to adapt to the new ways of networking too.

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While it may appear tricky to network without meeting IRL, there are countless possibilities online that don’t only involve LinkedIn.

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While there are certainly specific tips to in-person networking, the fact in any space remains: developing long-term relationships is key.

Here are some things you can do to up your game from the comfort of your home…

Create a networking spreadsheet

First things first — understand how wide/big your network really is. Think of your spreadsheet as an address book but with added fields, such as industry, important notes and when you were last in contact with them.

To get started, find that stack of business cards that you keep lying around and add the details of those you have a good relationship with to the relevant columns. Scroll through your emails and those people too. Think about close contacts at work who aren’t on your team, but with whom it may be worth maintaining contact.

If you are contemplating adding a person you met three years ago and you’d have to reintroduce yourself, there is probably no point.

Illo - How will you have office romances and friendships when everyone?s working remotely? Working computer man desk room office relationships sex advice race dating Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk
Make sure you don’t only get in touch when you need something (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Decide how often you want to reach out to each individual — do you want to speak every three or six months? Your answer will depend on your relationship with the person, so check your spreadsheet periodically and when the time comes, reach out to them. It might be worth setting a calendar alert on your phone to make sure your connection stays fresh.

Stuck for ideas? Checking where they are with their work, sending a relevant news article or scheduling a virtual catch up are safe options.

The goal is to keep your relationships warm – just like friendships, you’d hate for someone to ask you for something when they haven’t messaged you in forever.

If you don’t feel like you have many people to add, that’s okay! You’re just getting started and will have loads of new people to add soon. But this will help you keep your relationships warm in the long run.

Reach out to someone you admire

If you are looking for a mentor, this may be the best time to find one. Senior professionals – who often feel inaccessible – are aware that people feel disoriented about their career in the middle of a pandemic, but also may have more time to give without a daily commute and multiple face-to-face meetings.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, so it’s worth reaching out to that person you want to have as a mentor. But you must have a plan first.

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Networking is a lot like courting; you wouldn’t message someone you don’t know and ask them to be your partner without any preamble. It’s not advisable to ask someone you don’t know to be your mentor either.

Here’s a smarter strategy: research your potential mentor and understand their work, expertise and read up on their latest thought pieces. Settle on one thing you need advice on, that will likely provide them the opportunity to give a concise answer.

Reach out to them and tie what you’ve seen them work on to the reason you are messaging them and explicitly state how much time you are asking for – 15 to 30 minutes should do. Once you’ve had a successful meeting, apply the advice they gave you to your issue – and let them know how it went! You must give feedback to them to keep the communication going.

Next, repeat the process with them. If you form a genuine connection, you’ve found yourself a mentor without needing to ask.

Advice can be found at all everywhere so if you are looking to connect with someone at the same level of seniority the same rules apply, but these encounters tend to be more of an informal exchange of information.

Illustaration of two people on the phone
Ask someone you admire for advice (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Revamp your social media profiles

Social media already played a huge part in your branding before the pandemic, but at the moment it has taken on renewed importance. Take time to ensure your personality shines through on your platforms and you are being more intentional about image to make the right connections.

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This doesn’t only apply to LinkedIn. If your platform is public, then you need to spruce it up.

Re-do your bios, upload that new display picture, and think about what you want to post. If you want to be viewed as a thought leader, create resources that people can learn from and share with others. If you want to be booked for a photoshoot, make your platforms your portfolio. If you want to find a new job, document your achievements to show how hardworking you are.

People will only spend seconds on your profile before they decide to follow or connect – ask yourself: what do you want them to take away in that time?

Attend virtual events

Virtual events may not be the same as sipping on wine and quickly fostering relationships, but there are people aplenty online who still want to network while working from home.

The advantage of attending these event sonline is that you aren’t limited to those based in your hometown and gives you something to talk about with your other contacts.

The events you decide to go to will depend on the industry you are a part of, so check Eventbrite and use Linkedin to find out what’s happening.

Alternatively, signing up to industry-groups and attending webinars is time well spent learning about different trends and insights. If possible, ask your warm contacts what groups they are a part of and if anyone can join – see, you’re improving your virtual networking game already.

Do you have a story to share?

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Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.

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