Remote networking? How to make connections when you work from home

written by Anna Harris

While many of us are rejoicing at the return of working from the office, others of us are less enthused. Some have opted to take advantage of hybrid or fully remote opportunities instead of going back to the traditional setup of commuting every workday.

Maybe you’ve enjoyed teleworking but thought it would be nice to make some connections, professional or otherwise. It’s a little hard to do from home. Or maybe you’re currently continuing your education and doing so with an online program. It’s convenient, but maybe sometimes you wish you could make friends like you did when you were in school before. If you’ve ever felt this way, here are a few ways you might try to connect with colleagues and peers even when you’re not in the same physical space.

1. Slip into their DMs

If you’re regularly interacting with the same people, or there’s someone whose job is connected to yours and you’d like to make a connection, it’s okay to send a professional yet friendly message their way. I’m enrolled in an online graduate school program, and I’ve taken to doing this. In fact, the peers in my program have made group chats and WhatsApp chat rooms for connecting about issues and thoughts about classes. It’s pretty common these days even if you’re in a physical school. I recommend reaching out if you can do so without seeming creepy. If you got their phone number from someone other than them, make sure you just let them know how you got it.

2. Look for opportunities to connect face-to-face

This may not be possible in every situation, but if your workplace has regular meetings or optional teambuilding activities, you could make a goal to attend one optional gathering (either digitally or physically) once a month (depending on what works for you).

3. Always intro yourself in virtual meetings

If your meetings consist of the same people every time, this would not be effective, but if your virtual meetings are a mix of people every time, it can help build rapport if you introduce yourself the first time you speak in meetings. It helps people remember your face and your name.

4. See who’s close by

Especially if your situation is such where your peers or coworkers are scattered around the country, you could see if you can find out if any of them live in a reasonable proximity to you. You never know who might want to meet up for coffee.

5. Take advantage of shared workspaces or physical offices

If your office operates on a hybrid basis, take advantage of the physical office location, if it’s close enough to you. Every so often, maybe once a week or multiple times a month, consider stopping by for a few hours to make your presence felt. That will go a long way toward making yourself familiar to the higher ups and other coworkers who work from the office.

Also, more and more cities are opening up shared work environments. This is especially great for connecting if you work or go to school in a situation where others in your program or job don’t live nearby. Consider stopping by and see who comes. While the main point is to work, you never know what conversation when getting coffee will spark a friendship.

6. Connect with freelancers and independent contractors in your area

Another idea for those who work independently of a consistent team? Connect with freelancers in your area! Even if you don’t meet up in person, you can always use each other for resources, questions, and support. Meetup, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Discord are just a few places you can look for groups targeting independent workers.

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