With more people than ever working from home, remote workers are discovering new joys and new challenges every day. Working from home can afford you the freedom to eliminate the daily commute, to get chores done over lunch, and the ability to work from anywhere. On the other hand, those new to working from home have discovered they are no longer networking. Without in-person Chamber of Commerce meetings or Pro Groups, they have cut off a large element of their business-to-business marketing. This lack of interpersonal relationships with colleagues and clients has some telecommuters perplexed about online networking.
Keep reading for some of our best tips to network effectively while you work from home.
1. Get on Slack
If you don’t know what Slack is, think Microsoft Teams for young people. But really, Slack is a messenger style social platform that businesses from startups to Fortune 500 companies have been using to bring their employees together. Remote workers can share documents and assets in real-time, eliminating the need for emails and wasted time. If your business uses Slack, that’s great. But if you are a work from home freelancer and want to meet new people, try one of the many free Slack communities. Use these Slack communities to find job postings, share work opportunities, and connect with professionals in particular industries.
2. Join Online Classes and Parties
From webinars to Tupperware parties, online events are opportunities for you to meet people from all over the country—and the globe. Get chatty. You never know who you might meet. Try events that participants may need your services. You can learn fun skills during classes on gardening, sports, art, and more while you reach new people. If you participate in large Zoom events and get sent to a breakout room, use this chance to make more personal connections.
3. Online Trade Shows, Conferences, and Seminars
Similar to online classes, these are online events with more of a professional focus. Many industries are reinventing how they do trade shows by going online. Look for seminars in your sector or related industries. Online workshops are another opportunity to learn business building skills in leadership, marketing, and sales. When the possibility arises, go to one of these events in person.
4. Get on Reddit
With over 138,000 active communities, Reddit has a group or thread for every work from home topic. Search your industry, find work, or ask for advice from the over 330 million monthly users. You can find an instant community of fellow telecommuters that are willing to collaborate.
5. Promote on Facebook Community Pages
Look for the local Facebook community or happenings group pages. They are a wonderful opportunity to find people looking for recommendations for services. You can also meet other network-driven professionals in your area. And last but not least, you can even keep an eye on your competition and see how many locals recommend them.
6. Go to the Office
Depending on the nature of your remote work network, you may have affiliation with a business office. If so, try going into the office on occasion for meetings. Going in may help you build relationships with new employees, meet clients, and work better with various teams.
7. Join LinkedIn Groups
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile what are you waiting for? This is a valuable resource for freelance hustlers just like you. LinkedIn will help you with job searches and resume inquiries, yet it also has a wide variety of groups. These groups can help you make connections based on your location, profession, personal interests, and more.
8. Use Co-Working Spaces
Most cities have co-working spaces. These are buildings or dedicated floors of office space to rent. These may be formal spaces furnished with desks, printers, coffee-makers, or open space you need to fill on your own. Typically, you will pay a fee to reserve a desk or space on certain days or weeks. You will work out of your new “office” with like-minded people. You never know who you will meet, how you can collaborate, or whom else they may know.
9. Try a Give to Get Strategy
Most people don’t want to be sold to before you even say hello. When you use social media sites such as Facebook, Reddit, and similar sites, try a give-to-get strategy. Leave useful comments, tips, and tricks that the reader will find valuable. Putting yourself out there will create brand recognition, establishes you as an expert, and creates value in the mind’s-eye of your potential client. This works for online seminars and networking events too. You are more likely to attract attention if you say something worth listening to.
10. Have a Virtual Mindset
Keep in mind that most of your networking is online. With that will come a different experience than in-person networking. You will encounter online-dating levels of rejection, so don’t take it personally. Also, it will be more challenging to find a balance in tone. It may be more difficult to come up with small-talk, but you also may find some people want to get straight to the point. Have talking points ready to go to avoid awkward silences. Make sure that you are a top-notch techie—or at least fake it. If you want to give a positive first impression, make sure you have a good Wi-Fi connection with fast broadband speed. When you use pictures to explain or demonstrate a particular topic, use clear, quality images.
11. Don’t Forget Your Manners
Just because it’s virtual, don’t forget your manners. When you schedule a meeting, do similar niceties to what you would do for in-person meetings. Thank them for joining you at the beginning and end of the meeting. And most importantly, don’t be late. Nothing is worse than wasting your time staring at a blank screen.
Final Thoughts on Work From Home Networking
Freelancer and telecommuters don’t have to feel alienated from society. There are numerous effective work from home networking strategies worth trying. Millions of Americans have telecommute-careers, and many more will join the #wfhlife over the next few years. Your frustration with your current position may not be due to a lack of networking. Instead, it may be time for a career change.
Regardless if you need new employment or new clients, it comes down to you putting yourself out there. So, don’t just sit there, Get Stuff Done!