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How to Build Your Network and Manage Your Career From Home
For people searching for jobs, or just looking to make connections, networking is a great way to discover opportunities and build relationships. But right now, millions of people are being told to stay at home. Many of us are avoiding restaurants, group events have been cancelled and we’re working from home for the foreseeable future. Essentially, most of our natural networking opportunities have disappeared.
Enter modern technology. Thanks to software and social media, social distancing doesn’t mean putting your networking plans on hold. Video chats, emails and LinkedIn messages can take the place of in-person meetings, at least for the time being. Connecting with new people, or deepening existing relationships is still possible—maybe even welcomed. Your smart and talented coworkers and company leaders may be even more accessible and open to talking.
Check out a few ways to maintain and expand your professional network from home:
This is always good advice, but especially true now. Be considerate of what people are going through. While some might feel isolated and be thrilled to make a new connection, others could be stressed, caring for family members or dealing with personal health issues. If you don’t get a response from someone, move on for now. Make a note and reach out again at a less stressful time.
Make the Effort
Extroverts and those who naturally met people through daily interactions will now have to go out of their way to find new ways of connecting. LinkedIn, Slack and other social networks are a place to start, but look beyond your immediate connections. Get virtually introduced to new people through friends and coworkers and casually expand your network through meet and greets. Reach out to the creators of the content you love or join professional groups online. These are a lot of people’s main source of connection and community these days. And people who are normally too busy to participate might now be making themselves more available.
Networking should never be a one-way street. You may not be able to hire anyone, but you can offer advice, experience, skills and expertise. You can connect others to people within your company, vendors and agencies. Everyone has something to offer—this could also be a great opportunity to find or become a mentor.
While lots of things seem uncertain right now, you can take steps to set yourself up for success, no matter what happens. Make sure that your resume and LinkedIn profiles are up to date. Spend time thinking about your career goals so that you can clearly articulate them to someone else. Join organizations, clubs and groups that are centered around the role and field you want. Making connections now will help you later.
Not everyone is in a position to do this right now and that’s understandable. If you need help, ask for it. Reach out to your network and tell them what you need. You never know who’ll be able to support you or connect you to a resource that can help. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to help others, this is a great time to make a positive difference within your company and community.
If you’re currently trying to build your network and invest in your career during this stressful time, be kind to yourself. Stay positive and do the best you can. Situations like this can bring out the best in people and communities. A lot of us are looking for ways to help, learn, share, make a difference and feel connected. A little effort on your part now could create long-lasting relationships that benefit you, and your network, in the future.
For more great networking tips, check out Meet & Greets: The Casual Way To Expand Your Network.
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