Remote work is here to stay. No matter what industry you work in, it’s essential to learn how to build relationships in a virtual environment. This is especially crucial for those who work in sales, which relies on relationship-building over time.
Whether you prefer virtual coworking, attending online conferences, or engaging with contacts on social media, there is a myriad of ways you can ensure that you are building your network and furthering your career while working remotely.
In this post, you’ll learn practical remote networking strategies, tips, and techniques you can apply today.
4 Tips for Networking Remotely
How to Network Remotely
Networking remotely is more than just posting on LinkedIn. While maximizing your social presence is helpful, you’ll need a robust strategy to build a thriving network from home. Follow these 10 steps to level up.
1. Attend remote networking events.
Remote networking events help you connect with other professionals all from the comfort of your home. Attendance for these events could be free or paid. You can find remotes with general networking opportunities or niche focuses, such as geographical location, job role, industry, or topic.
There are also different types of remote networking events, including introvert meetups, mentoring events, roundtables, and speed networking events.
You can find these events by:
- Searching for mentions in industry forums and communities. You can also ask for suggestions in these groups.
- Running a Google search with “Topic/Industry” and networking event.
- Looking for events on Eventbrite or Meetup.
2. Build your network on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is one of the best platforms for remote networking — specifically outreach.
Here’s a simple 4-step outreach process to leverage this platform.
Step 1. Create a strong and clear profile.
Work on your profile carefully. This is what your prospective connections will consider when deciding whether or not to connect with you.
Make sure you have a professional headshot, a clear headline, and a strong ‘About’ section. Additionally, your experiences, skills, and endorsements should reflect your credibility and expertise in your industry.
Step 2. Create a list of prospective connections.
Some ways to find potential connections include using the search functionality, viewing alumni pages, searching for people who work in certain organizations, and exploring who your current connections follow. Make a list of people in these groups with who you’re most interested in connecting.
Step 3. Send out personalized connection requests
LinkedIn offers a helpful outreach feature that allows users to attach a note to connection requests. You want to make sure you’re always doing this.
In this note, you want to tell the recipient who you are, how you found them, and why you’re trying to connect with them.
Step 4. Follow up on accepted requests
Once anyone accepts your connection request, make sure to send a follow-up message thanking them and continuing the conversation.
3. Reach out to potential connections via email.
To network remotely via email, you need to first make a list of potential connections. Then, find their email addresses, using tools like VoilaNorbert or Hunter).
Once you have this list, there are two ways to reach out to potential connections via email:
- Cold outreach, or reaching out without any previous connection.
- Warm outreach, or reaching out to people who already know or know of you.
Warm outreach is more effective, so this is what you want to aim for.
The goal here is to establish familiarity with a potential connection through a mutual connection. If you do not have a mutual connection, you should focus on engaging with the prospect before your email outreach.
If you do have to send a completely cold email, here are some tips:
- Address the recipient by name.
- Personalize the message.
- Show proof that you’re worth connecting with.
- Have a clear ask.
4. Try virtual coworking.
Virtual coworking allows you to work with other people virtually.
This could be as simple as a Zoom call or as advanced as a Sococo workspace, which simulates and tracks users on a traditional office floor layout.
These sessions can be structured in many different ways depending on the preferences of the attendees. For example, some sessions might include “breaks” where attendees can interact freely. Others might only include pre- and post- “chat sessions.”
To find virtual coworking opportunities, consider throwing open an invitation on social media or a forum/community you belong to. Additionally, you could personally reach out to people within your network and extend open invitations to other people within their network.
5. Become an active member of industry forums and communities
In industry forums and communities, participants want to engage with other people in your industry and learn about your area of expertise.
That said, when engaging in these forums, keep the following in mind:
- Abide by the rules and regulations set by moderators.
- Stick to the topic of discussion (otherwise stated).
- Avoid “spamming” the forum with promotional content.
- Provide consistent value.
- Maintain respectful discourse — even when in disagreement.
Here are some places to find forums and communities:
- Facebook groups.
- Google search.
- LinkedIn groups.
6. Attend virtual conferences and webinars
Virtual industry events, such as conferences, webinars, and summits, can provide great opportunities for networking within your industry.
Here are some tips to make the most of these events:
- Share that you will be attending the event beforehand. You can then connect with other people who will also be attending.
- Engage in discussions and activities during the event,
- Reach out to fellow participants after the event.
Pro tip: Try to attend virtual events that allow some form of audience participation. Opportunities to interact and network with the hosts and fellow attendees provide extra value.
7. Participate in relevant Twitter Spaces and conversations
Twitter can be very powerful for virtual networking. Here are some ways to leverage this platform.
Twitter Spaces allows users to have live audio conversations. To use this feature you can either create a “space” or join a “space.”
Make sure to engage in relevant spaces and only speak when you have valuable input. Additionally, you can take note of potential connections within the spaces you join.
This is pretty similar to walking up to someone at a networking event. Likewise, when sending a direct message (DM) make sure to approach warmly, personalize your message, and provide value.
Engaging on Posts and Threads
A great way to “warm up” a potential connection is by engaging with their content before your initial outreach.
To do this, consider creating a list of people you want to connect with and establishing a regular cadence of engaging with their content by sharing and/or commenting.
8. Join virtual mastermind groups.
A mastermind group is a peer mentoring group.
Typically these groups require you to meet certain criteria to become a member. Additionally, some of these groups are invite-only. You may need someone to extend an invitation for you to join the group.
However, if you can join a mastermind, this can be one of the most effective virtual networking opportunities. These sessions are oftentimes incredibly focused groups designed to help each member benefit from the expertise, network, and momentum of the collective.
You can find mastermind groups on Meetup.com, by running a Google search, and by inquiring from people within your industry.
9. Set up your own live virtual networking events.
What if you can’t find any networking events that meet your unique needs? Create your own.
Contrary to what you might be thinking, this strategy can be leveraged with or without an existing audience.
If you do have an existing network, it's pretty straightforward. Simply create an event using solutions like Zoom or Airmeet. You can then send invites to people in your network.
If you don’t have an extensive network, you can create internal virtual networking events for people within your team, department, or organization.
During this event, you can then create activities and sessions that allow participants to deepen relationships.
10. Try to get media exposure.
The exposure from press mentions can potentially expand your network astronomically.
People across all industries want to connect with authorities in their space, both for their insightful takes on industry matters and potential collaborations down the line.
This is what makes getting your name out through the press an excellent way to land new connections. When prospective connections see that the media knows and trusts you, it gives you a whole new layer of credibility.
An easy way to get started with this strategy is by signing up for Help a Reporter Out (HARO) as an expert source in your space.
4 Tips for Networking Remotely
When it comes to remote networking, start by building a strategy. Then, experiment to find an approach that feels more natural to you.
If you’re just getting started, try out these four tips.
1. Attract networking opportunities by creating and sharing helpful content.
Having a bank of impressive, credible content can provide a foundation for your remote networking efforts.
Establish yourself as a thought leader by creating content relevant to your industry. That can be through a blog, social platforms, or forums. By creating content that answers the questions that your prospects and peers are bound to ask, you’ll be able to demonstrate expertise and build recognizability.
Additionally, don't be afraid to promote content that you didn't create. If you see a particularly thoughtful piece of content online, share it on your social media profiles. The crux of this specific strategy is to establish that you can both create meaningful content on your own and recognize when others produce it.
2. Create and share high-value compelling content during initial outreach.
One of the secrets to effective networking is to offer value. In remote networking, this is especially important.
There's an old expression that goes, "If you can't be handsome, you'd better be handy." In the world of remote networking this would probably go something like, "If you can't be charming in person, you'd better be helpful online."
In virtual spaces, you often don't have the same flexibility to put people at ease with natural conversation, so you have to compensate with utility.
Sharing useful content with valuable insight and actionable advice is an excellent place to start.
3. Offer value on industry-relevant forums and social media platforms.
Similar to the previous tips, your strategy here is to offer value.
Start by finding online forums specific to your industry or area of expertise and maintain an active presence on them.
When people have problems or questions which fall under your area of expertise, make a point of addressing them. Additionally, if you have pieces of content that can solve the poster’s problem, share those too.
Having a fully fleshed-out, mature-looking profile on each of these platforms is a key part of the process. It might be hard for some people to take professional advice about medical device sales on Twitter from someone without a profile picture and the handle @partyboyy2003.
4. Try not to seem robotic during interactions
If you want to start a meaningful conversation with a potential connection, you have to add a personal touch to your initial outreach.
If you connect with the typical request template or some cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all message, you're selling yourself short.
Write personalized messages when you send out requests. Let your connection know who you are and how they know you. Keep things open-ended from there.
Ask for feedback on some content or advice on specific issues you might be facing. Discuss why and how the two of you should collaborate. Start a friendly discussion about their business or individual career.
Don't be imposing or impersonal. At its core, networking is about starting a constructive two-way discourse. Be approachable and start on reasonable, friendly terms. Learn about them, and in all likelihood, they'll want to learn about you.
3 Remote Networking Tools
LinkedIn is a social networking platform designed to help professionals grow their network, find opportunities, and stay on top of the latest news within their industry.
Some ways you can network on LinkedIn include:
- Sending “connection invites” to people within your industry.
- Building relationships by engaging with content on the platform.
- Optimizing your profile for discoverability.
Pro tip: Creating content on LinkedIn can be a powerful strategy for growing your network organically. This allows you to attract “inbound” networking opportunities by improving your visibility and building credibility within your industry.
Slack is a remote collaboration tool. To use this platform to network remotely, you can either start or be invited to join a “workspace.” These virtual spaces are made up of channels, or threads dedicated to specific topics.
Once you become a member of a workspace, you can:
- Create or comment on threads.
- Send private messages to other members of a channel.
- Send files to other members of a channel.
And so much more.
Pro tip: A great way to stand out in a channel is by consistently sharing valuable content. Bonus points if this content is original and/or based on personal experience.
Clubhouse is an audio-based social networking platform that allows users to create and/or join discussions in virtual rooms.
Here are some ways to grow your network using Clubhouse:
- Start by creating a profile that clearly explains how/where to connect with you.
- If you have an existing network or audience, consider creating a room.
- If you do not, consider looking for opportunities to co-host a discussion in an existing room.
- If you simply wish to join rooms, make sure to participate and contribute to discussions.
Pro Tip: When possible, try to extend your interactions outside the platform. A simple way to do this is by immediately following up with social media connection requests to other participants once the conversation is over.
Grow Your Professional Network From Anywhere
Although it might take some getting used to, mastering the art of networking remotely can be a massive asset to your business. By implementing even just one of the methods explained above, you can extend your network globally — no matter where in the world you are.
Additionally, with the right tools and knowledge, this process can be uncomplicated, painless, and enjoyable.