Currently, over 50% of the U.S. workforce is working from home, and this percentage is growing steadily. Even with all of the amazing benefits to remote work, like better work/life balance, increased productivity, and less commuting, remote work also comes with the challenges of social isolation and loneliness.
So how do we stay connected in this virtual world, build networks, and create authentic relationships with people in our online communities? Below are our top eight suggestions for building your own professional network while working remotely:
1. Use a virtual co-working space: Even when you can't go into a physical office, if you are craving a more typical office environment and co-worker experience, there are virtual office solutions like Pragli and Socco to help you reach out to others. Joining a virtual office can help you share ideas, stay motivated, and feel like you are part of a team.
2. Join LinkedIn groups: Linkedin is a super powerful tool for connecting people to new job opportunities, but did you know that it also provides a wide variety of groups where you can connect based on your profession or areas of interest?A LinkedIn group is a great place to start making new connections and building your professional associations.
3. Join professional Slack or networking groups: Consider joining different Slack channels to connect with others who are in your industry or who have interests similar to yours. These channels will help you find new job opportunities, boost your networking abilities and help you make like minded friends along the way!
4. Say yes to online events: With in-person networking events becoming rarer, it’s important to find new ways to connect with people in a professional setting. Online events, conferences, and webinars are a great alternative to traditional networking events. So next time you are invited to one, say yes! You won’t regret it. Find yourself losing interest during online events? Check out our blog: Actively Listening: How to Stay Focused During Zoom Meetings.
5. Use your alumni community to your advantage: If you are a college graduate, take advantage of your alumni network. Find fellow alumni via social media and school events to connect with. Many employers make a habit of hiring from specific universities, so reach out to your alumni office to find out about employment opportunities and to stay connected with alumni events. You never know where your next lead or job is going to come from!
6. Try Reddit: Reddit often gets a reputation for being on the wrong side of the internet, but it can be a valuable source of information and potential networking opportunities. If you do use Reddit, you’ll want to exercise a little extra caution and make sure not to give out any private information. With the right approach, Reddit can be a useful tool to connect and engage with people from all different industries around the world.
7. Pursue your hobbies: You don’t necessarily have to join a work-specific group to build your professional network. Maybe you love to swim, enjoy playing the piano, or watch superhero movies religiously, take the initiative to join a group oriented around your chosen hobby. You never know who you might meet or what new friend might be able to help you or open new opportunities for you in the future.
8. Volunteer: Similar to pursuing your hobbies in a group setting, committing to volunteer work is another great way to meet new people and expand your horizons. Not only is it good for the soul and great for your community, but it opens doors for your future that might otherwise have been missed opportunities - volunteering can also help give your people skills an edge.
These are just a few of the many ways that you use to shake your routine up and broaden your professional network. Even if it’s a bit intimidating at first, making the decision to put yourself out there and engage with your community (online and in-person) is sure to be rewarding personally and professionally.
Author: Camryn Pickworth
As the head VA and owner of The First Pick VA Group I have found such great joy in sharing my experiences and top tips with other freelancers and aspiring VA's. I hope that our blog can service as a great reference for VA's and Clients alike!