As we move further into our remote work reality, you may begin to feel like some aspects of your professional life are no longer feasible. One of the biggest changes is networking. Networking is an invaluable tool that can help you beyond meeting new contacts: it offers the chance to gain insights into your field, accelerate your career path and much more.
While we are used to meeting and greeting in person, there is a whole world of digital networking platforms that you can tap into from your home office. We’ve compiled a list of just a few of the awesome virtual networks out there, so you can continue to expand your professional network from home.
1. Join LinkedIn Groups
Yes, we know you probably have a LinkedIn profile that you semi-neglect. However, there are a bunch of under-utilized aspects of the platform that you probably aren’t aware of. The site has a variety of groups where you can connect by profession, location, interests, etc. Seek out groups that interest you AND relate to your industry. Your own passions will make you an engaged and appealing member of the group, allowing you to build out your network with like-minded people you may have never overlapped with in the flesh.
2. Connect via your Alma Mater
Facebook, LinkedIn, and digital spaces on your university or college’s websites are a great place to construct your professional circle. The great thing about this network is that you already share a strong bond in common! Break the ice by discussing the school’s recent events or achievements, sports teams, or just some good, old-fashioned gossip.
3. Use Virtual Co-Working Spaces
Co-working spaces pre-COVID, like Workspace or WeWork, were a wonderful opportunity for freelancers and remote employees to rent a desk within a shared space and enjoy the perks of an office environment. Virtual coworking spaces aim to do almost the same thing, but digitally. Here, you can interact with members who actually want to connect vs plugging their headphones in to shut out the world around them. This is a service for people looking to collaborate – and another fantastic opportunity to connect with people from different professional circles.
4. Attend Virtual Networking Events
Industry seminars, job fairs, trade shows, etc. – they are all being reimagined for the digital world. Social distancing is not an excuse for not getting out there. Look online for virtual events happening in your field and register to attend.
More and more companies are now offering webinars, helping to educate and engage widespread industry communities. Take a look at the different business and networks you follow, know, or admire and attend their webinars. Yes, this digital classroom is a chance to learn and grow your own business, but you can also use them as a networking tool. Follow up with the speakers after the webinar and make a connection. Ask meaningful questions about what you learned, and parlay that question into an ongoing conversation.