With remote working and hybrid workplaces firmly here to stay, it’s more important than ever to nurture and maintain your contacts.
Remote networking can open up exciting new business opportunities, stave off isolation and loneliness, and keep you connected to the people that matter the most.
Here are 29 hints, tips and tools you can use to kick-start your remote networking from home.
An obvious first port of call for remote networking is LinkedIn. The world’s largest professional network boasts nearly 800 million members, making it an absolute gold mine for making useful connections. One of the great benefits of LinkedIn is that professionals expect to be approached by other professionals out of the blue.
This means they’re likely to be more receptive to hearing what you have to say and connecting with you. It’s important to personalise your messages, explaining how that person came to your attention and why you want to reach out. Having something worthwhile to offer them can also open doors.
The open nature of Twitter means it’s relatively easy to find someone’s Twitter handle and tweet at them. Whether they respond to you or not will typically correlate with their status and size of following. The more influential they are, the more tweets they’ll receive and the more selective they’ll be.
The key is to build rapport. Take a softly-softly approach, with a retweet here and an intelligent comment there. Try to develop meaningful conversations rather than pushing what you have to offer. Then, when you’ve developed a bit of a rapport, you can consider DM-ing them to take the dialogue further.
3. Facebook groups
Facebook has plenty to offer for remote networking. It’s still the world’s biggest social media network, with 2.91 billion active monthly users. Within that gargantuan network, you’ll find a huge variety of professional Facebook groups to tap into. A quick search will throw up plenty of groups relating to your areas of professional interest.
These groups tend to range in size but some attract thousands of members. Posting a question to such a group can be a great way to break the ice and start a conversation. Rather than diving right in with your question, try to become an active member of the community by contributing helpful comments and feedback first.
4. Instagram / Instagram Live
Instagram is especially useful for connecting with creators, photographers and artists who use the social network as a portfolio. You can do the same to create an authentic brand for yourself and reach out to like-minded professionals to work with and learn from. Be genuine, friendly and interested, and offer more than you take.
Another avenue to explore is Instagram Live. Look out for when companies or individuals that you admire go ‘live’ on Instagram for an interesting insight into their work. You can use this as an opportunity to ask speakers questions there and then or reach out to them afterwards for a potentially deeper exchange.
Reddit is a massive repository of online forums that discuss virtually any and every topic you can think of (and plenty more you wouldn’t!). Established in 2005, Reddit has more than 52 million daily active users who contribute to more than 100,000 specific online communities known as ‘subreddits’.
As well as some of the more random forums, there are plenty of professional subreddits that you can mine for remote networking opportunities. It’s a great place to ask questions, post opinions, and connect with other professionals in your field. As ever, the more you contribute the better your networking will be.
If you’re not familiar with Quora, it’s a social question-and-answer platform where members post a question for the wider Quora community to answer. Quora is all about high-quality engagement, which they achieve through verified profiles voting or down voting of posts, depending on their accuracy and relevance.
You can follow specific ‘professional spaces’, such as SEO And Digital Marketing or All About Business, and either post a question or answer someone else’s to create some useful engagement. Having found some useful contributors to follow, you can then try messaging them to extend the conversation beyond the realms of Quora and forge some useful professional relationships.
It’s easy to overlook emails as a source of remote networking opportunity. The proliferation of spam emails over the years has somewhat tarnished what is otherwise a highly effective networking tool. If you want to reach out to someone, check if their email address is available in the public domain, either on their website or using hunter.io. Check out this video for more handy hints and tips about how to find anyone’s email address quickly and easily.
You’ll need to invest some time and energy into making your email highly personalised and relevant to your recipient. Keep it short and snappy, compliment their work and reference common areas of interest to build a rapport. If you can get an introduction from a mutual friend, then all the better for eliciting a response.
8. Network within your organisation
Remote networking doesn’t just have to be about reaching out to external contacts. If you work in a large organisation, with hundreds or even thousands of colleagues, you’ll have a vast untapped network of contacts at your disposal. You can’t possibly know everyone in your company, so why not get to know some of them?
Your first port of call should be to use your company’s productivity tool of choice to reach out to colleagues of interest. Slack is a productivity tool and messaging app that enables remote teams to work more closely. You can message anyone inside or outside your organisation and collaborate just as you would in person. People can work in dedicated spaces, called channels, which bring all the right people and information together.
Slack is probably most beneficial to people who work in a large organisation, who would otherwise struggle to network with colleagues across various offices and locations. But it can also be useful if you’re a freelancer and are invited into the workspaces of a bigger agency or company that you collaborate with.
You could also join one of the many ‘public’ Slack communities to meet other freelancers and solopreneurs. If you can’t find one in your niche, then why not start your own?
9. Host a webinar
Hosting a webinar is not only a great way to showcase your expertise and that of your organisation, but it’s also a great way to carry out some useful remote networking. If you have something useful to say about your specialist subject, you could drum up potential new connections and customers with a carefully orchestrated webinar.
There are plenty of tools that make hosting a webinar easier than ever. We all know the power of Skype and Zoom as low-cost video conferencing tools by now. You can also market your event for free using Eventbrite, as long as your event is also free. Be sure to share your contact details to invite correspondences from your audience. Check out this blog post for some extra tips on how to boost your webinar marketing skills.
10. Try Lunchclub
Lunchclub is an American social platform that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to connect users with common interests and objectives. Lunchclub is an invite-only platform that enables you to build a profile, identifying your interests, current work projects and any other useful conversation starters.
Lunchclub connects people with similar interests, values and goals. Each week, Lunchclub prompts you to pencil in some suitable times for an informal virtual meetup. Then their AI gets to work finding relevant matches and setting up your meetings. If you’re invited, this could well be a great source of remote networking opportunities.
11. Attend a virtual event
Have you ever found your appetite for attending events in person lacking? All that travel, effort, cost and disruption can be exhausting; especially if the rewards didn’t match expectations. Well, online events have taken away most, if not all, those pain points.
Now, a casual search on Eventbrite can throw up countless free and paid virtual events about any number of business topics you might be interested in. Some are specifically for remote networking and Zoom-hosted events often have a ‘breakout room’ for just that.
12. Set up an online event with colleagues
If you’d like to go one step further when it comes to networking within your organisation, you could consider setting up an online event with your colleagues. In theory (as long as people show up!), setting up your own event allows you to cast the net wider and engage with a wider cross-section of colleagues in one fell swoop.
It largely depends on how targeted you want to be. If you’re looking for maximum outreach for your efforts, rather than seriously tailored conversations, this remote networking method can be highly effective. Think about running a webinar, a speed-networking event, or even a quiz to break down barriers and build rapport.
13. YouTube (watch experts’ videos and connect with them)
YouTube is unquestionably the world’s biggest video sharing site, with more than two billion monthly logged-in users. But what many people forget is that YouTube is also the world’s second largest social media platform. Bearing that in mind, YouTube can be a great remote networking tool if you’re willing to think outside the box.
Rather than passively consuming content on YouTube or blithely adding a throwaway comment here and there, be bold and reach out to the experts on screen. Many will feature an email address in their ‘About’ section, so why not drop them a line? As ever, if you can offer some input or expertise, then don’t be surprised if they respond.
14. Network with your clients
Another underrated remote networking technique is to get to know the team of your clients. Whether you work with customers from a diverse spectrum of industries or many organisations within the same niche, you’re going to encounter a wide range of experts that you can add to your wider network of contacts.
You never know when you might need the knowledge and expertise found within the teams of your customers. you’ll often have one contact at your client’s organisation, but this can be expanded to include some of their colleagues with a little gentle digging!
Project.co makes it easy to collaborate on projects, bringing your teams and your customers’ teams together. Why not use this as a tool to get to know your clients better and follow up one-to-one to find out more about individuals? Try using the ‘People’ section on Project.co to see who’s working on a project.
If you come away from every project with five contacts instead of one, just imagine the difference that would make to your network across the course of a year? Especially as people move on to new opportunities with new companies.
15. Tap into your existing network
Many of our remote networking tips up to now have required a certain amount of legwork and lateral thinking. But sometimes the simplest and easiest option, the one that should be glaringly obvious, is overlooked. In this case, we’re talking about tapping into your existing contacts to open up a whole new world of contacts.
How many of your friends or family, and crucially their friends and family, work in jobs that have some form of synergy with yours? It wouldn’t take too long to find out. Plus, you’d be starting from the strong position of having mutual contacts and therefore wouldn’t be starting cold. This is such a simple but effective remote networking tip.
16. Volunteer your time
A great way to broaden your personal and professional network of contacts is to volunteer your time. There are a huge array of opportunities nowadays that allow you to share some of your expertise with deserving good causes and non-profits. Best of all, many of these can be done remotely from the comfort of your own home.
You’ll find countless websites offering to connect you and your skills with non-profits that need professional help in various different areas. US-based Catchafire and VolunteerMatch, as well as Reach Volunteering in the UK, will match you to relevant opportunities; giving you the chance to give back and meet new people in the process.
17. Try a virtual careers fair
If you’re a freelancer or remote worker looking for a new challenge or career switch, a virtual careers fair could be just the remote networking opportunity you’ve been looking for. A careers fair isn’t just for graduates, they’re a great place to get in front of the right kind of recruiters and hiring managers for your ambitions and aspirations.
The UK Careers Fair, one of the UK’s biggest organiser of recruitment events, holds regular virtual careers fairs. Featuring a diverse list of exhibitors, from Tesco to TSB Bank, their online events allow you to have public or private text, video or audio conversations with the exhibitors of your choice. Remember to follow up with hiring managers and hosts to maintain relations and strengthen your professional network.
18. Connect with alumni
We’ve already covered the virtues of LinkedIn earlier in this blog, but another bonus benefit of using this professional social network is that it can connect you with fellow alumni from your studies. If you ever search for jobs on LinkedIn, you may have noticed that LinkedIn flags up alumni that work for that company.
How about that for a minimal-effort remote networking opportunity? If an alumni works in a role or organisation of interest to you, consider reaching out to them. Find out more about what they do and build up a relationship. You’ve already got a tailor-made icebreaker and they may be able to make some introductions for you.
19. Reach out to webinar leaders
We’ve already mentioned the virtue of signing up to plenty of online events to broaden your network. Continuing in this vein, another great remote networking approach is to reach out to webinar leaders. After an inspiring webinar, there’s no harm in contacting the keynote speaker with any questions you might have.
Many webinar leaders will include their contact details as part of their presentation. In fact, as we underlined earlier, webinar leaders fully expect to be contacted by webinar attendees. So use this opportunity to pick their brains, show your appreciation, and keep the conversation going. What’s the worst that could happen?
20. Listen to podcasts
Nowadays, there’s a podcast about every subject under the sun. But have you ever listened to a really enigmatic podcast guest and thought: ‘I’d love to speak with them’? Just like reaching out to a YouTube expert or a webinar leader, there’s absolutely no harm in reaching out to podcast speakers to make a business connection.
Now let’s just caveat this tip with a healthy dose of real talk! This remote networking approach obviously depends on the speaker. Barack Obama is unlikely to respond to your emails (sorry to break it to you!) but more accessible, everyday experts in niche fields may actively welcome your genuine interest in their work.
21. Grab a ‘virtual’ coffee
Remember when we said not all remote networking ideas need to be complicated or fancy? Well, what could be simpler – or more low-pressure – than inviting a new or long-lost business contact to enjoy a ‘virtual’ coffee with you? This is a great way to set aside some time for an informal chat to connect or reconnect with someone.
Just like grabbing a real-life coffee, it doesn’t have to be a long chat; more of a quick catch-up instead. There’s something far more disarming and charming about saying ‘shall we get a (virtual) coffee sometime’ than ‘let’s talk over Zoom’. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn about someone over a hot cup of Joe!
22. Start your own blog
One of the key principles of any type of networking is to give more than you take. Often, the more helpful and proactive you are (without any expectations of receiving in return), the more enigmatic you become to potential new contacts. One great way to share your knowledge and expertise is to start a blog (or vlog, or podcast!).
Sure, this one is going to take legwork, especially if you’re going to build a sizable following. But if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, the rewards are well worth it. After all, this is one of those rare instances that prospective new contacts will contact you if the content you put out there is useful and interesting.
It’s important to think strategically. Lots of people start blogs but end up giving up because they don’t get the traction they expected. It’s a lot of energy to waste. So you need to have a plan to get your content in front of people. Check out this video to find out how you can grow your organic search traffic in no time.
23. Ask for an intro
Another major tenet of networking is to put yourself out there and be bold given the opportunity. More often than not you’ll need to make a remote networking opportunity happen. One of the best ways to do this is to simply ask for an introduction from a mutual friend, colleague or contact. If you don’t ask, you don’t get after all!
However, you can’t simply assume that your mutual connection will drop everything to arrange an intro for you. Show them you respect their time by joining the dots; explain why the person you want an introduction with is of interest and what you might have in common to make the introduction less of an effort for your go-between.
24. Subscribe to email lists
Remote networking from a standing start can be tough. That’s why we always advise trying to find an ‘in’ to turn a cold lead into a warmer one. One great way to do this is by subscribing to the email list of someone you’d like to connect with. This simple act instantly makes you an engaged follower rather than an outright stranger.
Now you have a foundation of talking points and common ground to promote further discussion with your potential contact. If you show a genuine interest and can add value to their life in some way, rather than coming across too ‘salesy’ or transactional, you could spark a genuinely rewarding relationship.
25. Meet up on Meetup
Meetup is a platform for finding and building local communities. People use Meetup to meet new people, learn new things, find support, get out of their comfort zones, and pursue their passions together. It’s free to create an account and there are thousands of online and in-person events taking place every day across the globe.
If you want to keep your remote networking fully remote, then you can filter your search for online events only in any location you prefer. There are all kinds of career groups on Meetup for you to access. This is a great way to make some connections with like-minded, career-focussed professionals in your industry and beyond.
26. Enrol onto an online course
Remember how diverse and extensive your network of contacts was when you were a student? That was no coincidence. Because when you get a group of people together who are passionate about a subject and want to learn more about it, then you’re bound to make plenty of worthwhile connections.
With a huge amount of learning moving online, there’s never been a better time to pursue that qualification or area of study you’ve been mulling over and kept on the back burner until now. Think of all the new friendships and connections waiting to be made with your cohort and tutors. Plus, you’ll gain a new qualification!
27. Take up a hobby
Everyone has a life outside of business. Or at least we sincerely hope they do! We all have passions and hobbies beyond the office that enrich our lives and make us who we are. So why not take up a new hobby or re-ignite your passion for an existing but lapsed interest? The benefits for you and your (professional) social life can be huge.
Whether it be learning a new language, taking music lessons, or joining a book club, you’re bound to find a whole host of virtual groups to join online. The great thing is that you’ll already have a shared passion to break the ice and who knows who you’ll meet? Keep an open mind and you might just forge some worthwhile relationships.
28. Try virtual co-working
Workspaces are the ideal place for freelancers and creatives to get together in a shared workspace and work alongside other professionals. They’re a great option for broadening your professional network and banishing the loneliness of remote working. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own desk if you’d rather give virtual co-working a spin.
With remote working and hybrid working practices firmly embedded into our daily 9-to-5, coming together to ‘meet’ interesting new work connections is more important than ever. Othership provides a mixture of online coworking with an active Slack group and regular events, such as Network & Coffee every Monday.
29. Maintain your interest
For any of these remote networking techniques to work, you need to express a genuine interest in the people you’re trying to connect with. The whole point of networking is to get to know someone on a deeper level. Not to sell them a service or product at the first possible opportunity. This is how you make authentic connections.
Ask questions, offer solutions and expect nothing in return. These basic principles will stand you in good stead. Remember too that remote networking takes consistent effort. Relationships need to be nurtured and maintained. So aim to be consistent with your communications to maintain those contacts you’ve worked so hard to nurture.
Time for some remote networking!
You’re sure to find more than a few useful remote networking techniques in our comprehensive list of ideas. Now it’s time to put them into action and get out there (virtually, of course!). Remember that many of the ideas we’ve listed can be combined. For instance, you could always tweet an inspirational webinar leader and follow up with an email for a truly holistic remote networking experience. Good luck!
For more actionable tips and advice like this, head to our blog.