Q: How can I build a network remotely?
A: One contact at a time…and by bringing who you are offline, to your interactions online.
Easy for me to say — living in the middle of Manhattan — that geographical location is not a hurdle to networking. But I say this with one big IF. It’s not a hurdle IF you’ve got an Internet or Mobile connection. I think of online platforms, as IRL locations — you know, the room / event / place where you bump into or are likely to meet someone. Looking at the standard Big 3 (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter):
- LinkedIn is the office;
- Facebook is the family or college reunion; and
- Twitter is the cocktail party.
Note that I said “these are locations where you are likely to meet someone” — not market to, sell or push your product on. What makes an event (or platform) a pleasant place to be or an enjoyable experience are the PEOPLE not the functionality or cocktails being served.
So with that networking mindset hurdle crossed, to more fully answer the question “How can I build a network remotely?”:
1. If you’re looking to grow your work connections, focus on LinkedIn. Make sure you have a full, complete profile (including a professional headshot). If you’re connecting online, your online profile is how you make that first, great impression. Find my LinkedIn tips here.
2. Investigate networking opportunities with the niche communities building their networks on MightyBell (SkillCrush for example, has a MightyBell group) or communities of like-minded individuals who come together via a digital course (again, SkillCrush is a great example, as is Savor The Success’ PR School) or purpose-driven career advancement platforms such as Levo.
3. Aim to create multiple touch-points to stay top-of-mind with the connections you make. Here is a menu of ideas to consider:
- Follow them on Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat;
- If the person is an influencer, follow their posts on LinkedIn;
- Sign-up for their newsletter;
- Up-vote their product on ProductHunt;
- Write an Amazon review for their book;
- Read and comment on their blog posts;
- Subscribe to and spread the word on their podcasts — and rate their podcast on iTunes;
- Share their content whether it is forwarding the insights to your friends via email (or Facebook update) or a post on LinkedIn, or even simply a tweet or RT;
- Remember to use their #hashtag;
- Participate in a Twitter party they’re hosting (or Q&A session hosted on the platform);
- Engage in their event(s) or meetups via Periscope (Third Wave Fashion does this for their meetups) or watch the live stream (many TEDx events do this) — and while you’re virtually participating in the event on Periscope or live stream, share your insights from the event on another platform (such as Twitter).
Be visible online in showing how much you enjoy what the person or company is doing! How their content or insights or event has help you or improved your career situation or understanding of a topic. Yes! This is how networking is done effectively online! Then if and when the opportunity presents itself, jump on Skype or FaceTime (instead of messaging or emailing) and deepen your connection with that [online] face-to-face conversation.
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