Since in-person networking is not really an option for most of us these days, these are some of my favorite ways to cultivate and grow my network while working remotely.
1. Activate Your Alumni Networks
Whether you use LinkedIn or Facebook, you can reach out and connect with alumni from your alma mater in any geographic location, across industries and generations. Having a shared history and intimate knowledge of your school's traditions, athletic teams, etc. can serve as a great stepping-stone for building relationships, both professional and personal. Look for local alumni groups that can provide additional opportunities for making valuable and maybe soon-to-be-in-person connections.
2. Maximize Tools Like Slack
These days, almost half of today's remote workers use Slack, which provides a valuable tool for connecting with coworkers, sharing ideas, and even identifying potential new colleagues and friends. Slack communities provide limitless opportunities for connecting with people with similar interests. There are Slack communities for remote workers of all professions, hobbies, and interests.
3. Get on Reddit
With 330 million monthly active users and well over 138,000 active communities, Reddit has a group or thread for practically everyone. Explore your interests, ask for advice, and maybe even find work via this digital collaboration platform. Remote workers can also find community in regional subreddits and just hope your stressed-out behavior doesn't show up in the TalesFromRetail subreddit.
Whether you decide to answer 211 calls for your local community or make check-in calls with seniors for your church, there are countless opportunities to reach out and give back from home. Volunteering is also an effective way to polish your communication, networking, and teamwork skills—which are qualities that virtually every professional should cultivate today. Some of the highest-quality connections I've made over the years have been from volunteering situations. Why not volunteer to proofread the newsletter for your favorite industry association or offer to make membership renewal calls for them?
5. Participate in LinkedIn Groups
Use LinkedIn Groups as a public forum to ask for guidance or discuss topics and trends with thought leaders and experts. Also, by sharing and providing your own knowledgeable insights, ideas, or resources, you can build rapport with other contributors and cultivate your network while doing so, too. Groups can be geographically or topic-specific based such as the Chicago Compensation Association Group or Digital Marketing, respectively, and engaging in them is a great way to connect with new-to-you professionals in your industry.