Networking doesn’t need to be only in person with coffee, lunches or mixers. With creativity and resolve, connecting meaningfully with others can be done remotely and across geographic and time zone differences. If you’re stuck at home, here are ways to expand and network effectively.
Be mindful when selecting a mentor
For many in the next generation, mentorship is key to gaining a foothold for their career and life. A mentor could be someone in proximity in the workplace or at a professional organization. But if the relationship starts out through a digital connection, more thought can be put into the right match, rather than simply convenience. A university alma mater, your current workplace or a professional organization can help match with a mentor that aligns with your interests, needs and personality. Spend time planning who could be your best mentor during this time.
Connect with “loose ties”
Research has shown that while we rely on our strong ties in our everyday lives, but it’s our weak ties (also called an “open network”) that help make leaps when it comes to finding new roles. Because weak ties are farther removed, they know about opportunities we aren’t likely to know about. By identifying and reaching out to valuable connections that you don’t know as well, you can extend your open network dramatically.
Join social groups at work
If the only time you interact with colleagues is on projects and conference calls in meetings, it’s going to be hard to build friendships. Instead, carve out niches for friendship at work by joining social groups, which can also take the form of Teams / Zoom happy hours, Facebook groups for hobbies and other shared interests.
Use reconnection as networking
Networking doesn’t always have to take place in person or with people you don’t know. In fact, networking is often more powerful when it’s cumulative, and not just a one-off encounter the first time you meet someone. Networking can also mean reconnecting with former colleagues and sending notes of appreciation, congratulations on work anniversaries, or other virtual ways to stay in touch.
Start writing on a blog or LinkedIn article
One of the most effective ways to build a network beyond your immediate contacts is to start a professional blog on a topic of your expertise, make connections, show thought leadership and get feedback. Here are tips on how to launch a blog and grow your following.
It’s less overwhelming when you start to break down the end goal into smaller, individual parts of a routine. Tackle the above categories one by one, and you’ll be able to build on the momentum of each to accelerate the size of your network.