Virtual coffee breaks are replacing water cooler chatter. Here are some tips for networking remotely with co-workers.
In the remote world so many of us are now working in, connecting with co-workers takes effort. It’s easy to be efficient: Log in, get the job done and log off. (That’s what we love about working virtually, right?) But research shows that people who take the time to nurture good connections in the workplace are happier, more loyal, less stressed and feel like they belong.
Networking with co-workers will help you strengthen existing relationships and foster new ones, and even expose you to more learning and development opportunities. The trick is networking effectively when and where face-to-face opportunities are scarce.
Here are some tips for networking – albeit virtually – with your colleagues.
Keeping connections, building new ones
Connect on LinkedIn. OK, this one might be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised to find how many people you work with every day are not among your connections on LinkedIn. Take an inventory and send out invites to people you talk to on a regular basis. Make a habit of connecting with new colleagues immediately after a first meeting to seal that digital bond. You may also consider making professional accounts on other social media platforms to expand your options.
Focus on quality over quantity. Your goal for networking virtually should be to make genuine, meaningful connections. To do this, create posts on social media that your colleagues will gain something valuable from. Share what you know and what you’re passionate about, like trends in your space. This will start real conversations in your network.
Pro tip: Block some time on your calendar once a week for scheduling your posts, using a free tool like Hootsuite or Crowdfire. Consider another, smaller block of time midway through the week to share and interact with other people’s content and respond to comments on your posts and profiles.
Interact online where you see an opportunity! If you come across a colleague sharing interesting content on social media, delivering an impactful presentation to peers, or achieving a professional milestone, reach out and let them know. Direct messaging people will get you in front of them and can help you make a meaningful connection. From a social media perspective, you can comment on one of their posts to help their posts gain reach. (They may even repay you the favour.) Networking digitally means mustering the courage to make the first move.
Take some time to break the ice. Get to know your co-workers by encouraging a bit of chit-chat to kick off meetings. If it’s not possible to start off slow with conversation, consider hosting a weekly huddle, coffee break or happy hour to get co-workers chatting.
Remember that while networking virtually means using various methods to connect, be sure to remain authentically you in your interactions. Your personal brand shouldn’t be too curated but should carry through from live conversation to your social media presence.
To build your virtual networking web:
Connect with colleagues online to create a digital bond
Dedicate time to building relationships by scheduling touchpoints with colleagues
Post to social media mindfully and interact with posts to expand your network