Careers

Five simple tips for remote networking

Jul 23, 2020

Networking has been about connecting with people in a physical space. How, then, do we seek new connections in a digital landscape? Rachel Tubridy outlines five methods on how to uncomplicate remote networking.

A recent PeopleSource survey of 2,600 Irish business professionals from a variety of backgrounds found that 98% of respondents would now like to work from home at least one day a week, with almost half indicating that three or more days working from home on a weekly basis is preferable.

Despite the fact that three-quarters of all participants indicated they were looking forward to person-to-person interaction with colleagues on their return to the office, an even higher percentage said that they would not attend business events where social distancing was out of their control.

As concerns grow about future waves of the pandemic, the long-term viability of remote working and networking is very much on business leaders’ minds right now. The advent of 5G, which promises network communication speeds up to twenty times higher than the current mobile technology, will significantly reduce the need for physical office space. Instead, workers will be virtually contactable anytime and anyplace. Real-time data analysis, instant videoconferencing and uninterrupted workflows between corporate offices and a distributed workforce will change the current business dynamic. Major corporations like Fujitsu are giving workers the option to work at home or in the office, while Twitter has stated that its employees can work from home ‘forever’. But what does this mean for networking?

A new kind of networking

The networking dynamic has drastically changed because of the pandemic. You really must put yourself out there – informal introductions over a coffee or lunch are, for the moment, non-existent.

This paradigm shift in working practices has significant implications for traditional networking. While ‘pressing the flesh’ has long been the way of establishing connections and developing trust in the commercial world, this is now being replaced by far more impersonal ways of conducting business. Physical isolation, lack of ‘live’ or ‘in-person’ events make it more difficult to communicate, which means we all must find new ways of networking effectively.

People are no longer bumping into each other on the street where previously valuable information has been exchanged and where impromptu contacts were established. Networking is now being replaced by online gatherings, which, once the meeting has started, makes it’s hard to say ‘hey this is not for me, I’m out’ without raising an eyebrow.

Here are five simple tips to help uncomplicate remote networking:

  1. Join business communities, local enterprise groups, Chartered Accountants Ireland district societies on LinkedIn, and participate in online meetups and industry events.
  2. When joining a remote networking event, make sure you’re comfortable in your surroundings and that you can talk freely to the other participants. Are your children, partner or housemate in the room? Find a quiet space so you’re not interrupted and check your Wi-Fi signal is strong in that space. You don’t want to cut out unexpectedly.
  3. Like with traditional networking, show up with an elevator pitch about who you are and what you do. Remember, the goal of networking is to show what you can offer the other people in the group, so be sure to have a good understanding of that yourself.
  4. Remote networking is a bit more formal than traditional events because of the medium – be patient when you have something to say, letting the person currently speaking finish what they are saying. When you do participate, be sure it’s to say something that will add value to the conversation. Remember, you’re an expert in your field and you have a lot of knowledge to offer other professionals.
  5. Relax, and remember everyone is in the same boat. The more at ease you are, the more approachable you seem and the more likely you will make some worthwhile connections.
  6. After the meeting, connect with the other attendees on LinkedIn, adding a note with your own contact details.      
Rachel Tubridy is Founder of PeopleSource. You can read more about the survey here.