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10 best remote networking tips

Discover the challenges of remote work. Explore virtual networking tips, such as joining online communities, hosting virtual coffee breaks and hopping on informal video calls.

In the aftermath of COVID-19, many people transitioned to remote work, where in-person meetings, handshakes and coffee dates with colleagues are being replaced by virtual networking.

In 2023, the Pew Research Center estimated that 22 million working adults in the United States work full-time from home, making up roughly 14% of all employed adults.

While working from home provides a desired level of flexibility to workers, it does bring communication and networking challenges and can hinder career growth. Some common issues faced by remote employees include the following:Top of Form

  • Lack of face-to-face interactions. Remote work limits the ability of employees to engage in person and attend networking events where connections are often made.
  • Feelings of isolation. This can be especially hard for extroverts, as they thrive on collaborative energy and face-to-face interactions. According to a study conducted by USA Today, the most significant concern reported by U.S. employees is the sense of isolation from their team, with 34% expressing this sentiment.
  • Limited spontaneous communications. Working remotely might prevent impromptu and casual office encounters that often lead to networking opportunities.
  • Difficulty establishing rapport. Building rapport and establishing trust can be more challenging when interactions are limited to virtual communication channels, such as email, video calls and instant messaging.
  • Reduced visibility and recognition. Remote employees might find it challenging to gain recognition, especially when competing for promotions with in-office colleagues.
  • Work-life balance. The flexibility of remote work can sometimes make it difficult to draw the line between business and personal life. Maintaining a healthy balance becomes challenging without the physical separation provided by a traditional office environment, potentially leading to employee burnout.
  • Time-zone conflicts. Remote teams that have an international presence often work in different time zones, making it difficult to find overlapping times for networking activities or meetings.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to remote work. Despite the challenges, remote workers can bridge the networking gap and engage with their peers effectively by following these 10 tips:

1. Join online communities and social media

Online communities and professional networking forums tailored to specific industries offer the opportunity for remote workers and freelancers to connect with like-minded professionals.

Social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook Groups, Slack, Meetup and Reddit, serve as tools for remote workers looking to expand their network and cultivate meaningful professional relationships.

2. Attend virtual events

Remote workers should participate in webinars, podcasts, virtual conferences, trade shows, networking events and team-building activities conducted online to expand their network and stay updated on industry trends.

While virtual events tend to include many participants, most platforms do provide options for personalized interactions. For example, the breakout room feature in Zoom webinars enables participants in a large audience to form professional, intimate connections by breaking them down into smaller groups.

3. Host virtual coffee breaks

Virtual coffee breaks help remote teams socialize and stay connected. These informal interactions can recreate spontaneous conversations that typically happen around a physical office's water cooler or coffee machine.

For example, remote workers can use Slack with dedicated channels to randomly pair team members for coffee breaks using bots such as Donut. They can also explore other platforms including Kumospace and CoffeePals to host virtual coffee breaks. Along with offering unique features for hosting virtual gatherings and coffee breaks, these platforms can also be integrated with Microsoft Teams.

4. Have informal video calls with colleagues

Getting on occasional informal video calls can strengthen connections between remote workers and provide an opportunity for a quick catch-up. Informal video check-ins enable remote workers to engage in casual conversations, share personal stories and build rapport with their colleagues, fostering a sense of camaraderie and trust.

Video calls also offer more nuanced communication than emails or text messaging. The ability to see facial expressions and hear the tone of voice creates a sense of belonging and enhances understanding and empathy among team members.

5. Participate in virtual team-building activities

Participating in virtual team-building activities is a way for remote workers to stay connected. For example, employees could join a virtual trivia night or participate in a team cooking challenge over a video call.

By using a user-friendly virtual platform, such as Zoom or Google Meet, companies can conduct interactive sessions, workshops and team-building exercises to promote employee engagement and collaboration among remote team members.

6. Offer to collaborate on projects

Remote workers can enjoy the benefits of networking by engaging in project collaboration with their peers. For instance, if a remote employee has expertise in graphic design, they could offer to create visuals for a colleague's presentation or marketing campaign.

By collaborating on different projects, remote employees can contribute to a common purpose, fostering a sense of connection and teamwork despite the physical distance.

7. Organize virtual lunch-and-learn sessions

Hosting virtual lunch-and-learn sessions is a way to facilitate networking between remote workers. During these sessions, colleagues bring their lunch and join the session remotely to discuss industry trends, share knowledge or learn new skills. Guest speakers and subject matter experts can be invited to conduct workshops and presentations or facilitate discussions on topics of interest.

These sessions can also serve as networking opportunities for connecting with colleagues across different departments or teams.

8. Network in person from time to time

Even with the flexibility of remote work, it's essential to network in person occasionally. Attending local meetups or industry events related to one's field can enable remote workers to introduce themselves and engage in conversations with others.

Grabbing an occasional coffee or arranging lunch meetings with local colleagues can also serve as effective networking opportunities.

9. Use coworking spaces

Physical coworking spaces provide an excellent networking and collaboration option for remote workers, digital nomads and freelancers. Many places offer shared office facilities for working or attending networking events. For instance, global providers including WeWork and Regus offer coworking spaces with flexible memberships, amenities and networking opportunities across various locations. These spaces typically feature shared areas, such as lounges, meeting rooms and collaboration zones, enabling members to work together.

Some coworking spaces actively facilitate introductions among members, helping remote workers expand their networks and forge connections.

10. Follow up

After participating in virtual meetings and networking events, remote workers must stay in touch with colleagues and new acquaintances via follow-up messages. This way they can convey appreciation, share pertinent resources, or arrange follow-up conversations.

Consistent communication plays a crucial role for remote employees looking to maintain and strengthen their network over time.

Kinza Yasar is a technical writer for WhatIs with a degree in computer networking.

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