Top tips: how to network online to advance your career
Now that working from home is the new norm, we’ve lost the opportunity to build our careers through face-to-face networking, so how can you continue to build your network when working remotely in order to stand out amongst your peers? In this article, Carrie Swift from Love Public Speaking shares her 5 top tips to help you build your network online and advance your career when working from home.
First things first, let’s talk about making sure you’re remaining visible within your organisation…
1. Make sure you get enough face time with senior colleagues and overcommunicate about what you’re working on, in a non-annoying way
Your chance to shine in a meeting or mingle with senior peers at after work drinks has now disappeared, so it’s up to you to find ways of getting extra ‘face time’ where you can showcase your work and ideas. Make sure you always turn your camera on for virtual meetings to build trust, and set up a weekly 1:1 with your manager keep a close relationship and stay abreast of your department’s wider strategy so you don’t miss out on any new opportunities.
When we’re working from home, we need to overcommunicate about what we’re working on or we become invisible. You’ll already know that it’s not enough to just do the work – you actually have to be seen doing it to get the credit, so how can you find a non-annoying way to show the full scope of your workload? Perhaps you can send a brief weekly email to your boss with your wins/challenges on a Friday afternoon (no reply required) or send a 5-minute video presentation update of the project you are working on for senior colleagues to watch in their own time.
2. Build your network within your organisation by creating a networking plan
In Patty Azzarello’s book “Rise”, Patty outlines how to design a plan for building relationships with potential sponsors and mentors within your organisation; the key message here being that you need people who are at more senior than you to vouch for you in meetings where promotions are being discussed. Firstly, identify who you need to build a relationship with and then ask – what do they care about, and what can you offer them? If you can open the relationship with an exchange of favours then that is a great way to start. If not, then ask them for a virtual coffee. You could simply say; “I have noticed you are good at X and wondered whether you use a specific approach. Could you spare 20 mins for a virtual coffee so I can ask you a couple of questions..?”
Use Patty’s table below to plan who you will approach, how you will approach them, what your designed outcome is and how frequently you will connect with them:
|Sponsor / mentor||What is relevant to them?||Desired outcome||Form & frequency|
|Executive||Her priorities are winning new business. I might be able to help by sharing what I learnt on X project..||For her to be my unofficial sponsor and vouch for me with other senior colleagues||Aim for a virtual coffee once a quarter|
3. Next, create your networking plan for people you want to meet outside of your organisation, and use LinkedIn to reach them
Draw another version of the table above, this time listing people you want to connect with outside of your organisation. For example, if you work in digital transformation and are working towards one day becoming a Chief Operations Officer, can you seek out COOs from other companies and begin to build a mentoring relationship? Tip: don’t explicitly ask them to be your mentor as they’ll probably be too busy and say no – instead aim to build a relationship gradually through an exchange of favours. You can start the relationship by connecting with these people on LinkedIn. Let’s say you want to find the COO of Tescos, simply enter in the LinkedIn search bar “COO Tesco” and they’ll appear. Take a look at their profile, find out what they care about or something interesting to comment on, and craft a short message to them to begin the relationship. After you’ve spoken, make a point of thanking them for any advice they offer you and stay in touch to grow the relationship over time.
4. Post regularly on LinkedIn to build your personal profile within your industry
Stay visible to your external network by having a strong LinkedIn profile where you are regularly posting and interacting with other professionals in your industry. Make sure you get the basics right – that means having a linkedin photo that looks professional, a cover image that’s relevant to your industry, a headline which describes the problem you solve (for example “Marketing Manager specialising in delivering efficiencies, scale and growth”) and a minimum of 4 recommendations from clients / colleagues. You could set yourself the following targets for LinkedIn activity:
- Post twice per month (e.g. sharing an article/presentation you produced, or simply forwarding an article you found interesting and inviting others to share their opinion on it)
- Add 10 new relevant connections per month
- Ask for 1 new recommendation per month, e.g. from a colleague or client
5. Seek out other opportunities to build your personal brand online
There’s lots of opportunities to network online, and the more you look, the more you’ll find. Here’s some ideas you can try to build your personal profile…
- Attend online industry conferences
- Offer to speak at online events – get some coaching with us if you need to build your confidence in presenting
- Write article for industry magazines
- Join your industry’s membership body / trade association
- Ask your friends who they can connect you with
- Become a mentor or volunteer – e.g. become a start up mentor for www.virginstartup.com
- Get an NED role and sit on a company board – you could sign up with an agency like www.dynamicboards.co.uk
So here are a few ideas to get you started, and there are many more strategies you can use to advance your career when working remotely. If you’d like further support to grow your career online, you can book career coaching with us or hire us to run a webinar on this topic for your team.
Carrie Swift – Founder, Love Public Speaking
Carrie Swift is the Founder of Love Public Speaking, a communication skills training company which helps corporate teams improve their performance in pitches, presentations and virtual meetings. An international conference speaker, Carrie is a NLP practitioner, coach and presentation skills expert. Carrie founded Love Public Speaking in 2016 after spending many years overcoming her fear of public speaking when she was working as a Director in the corporate world. Her passion is helping businesses grow by empowering their people to speak with confidence and become strong brand ambassadors.