Networking is one of the least talked about—but most important!—ingredients in building a successful career. It can help you find mentors, connect with potential employers, and learn about opportunities that you wouldn’t have otherwise had access to. Historically, networking was done in person at conferences, industry events, and even happy hours with colleagues. However, with the rise of remote work and digital communication tools, it’s now possible (and necessary!) to network remotely as well.
If networking has some serious ick-factor, you’re not alone. A lot of people think networking is all about schmoozing and “kissing up” to people in power, but it’s so much more than that. At its core, networking is a way of building connections with other people who share similar interests or goals. It’s not about sucking up or brown-nosing – it’s about reaching out to others in order to learn, grow, and progress in your career.
Like all aspects of life, the quality of your work is determined by the quality of your relationships. Showing up as your whole self and learning about other people’s careers isn’t icky: it’s transformative!
The advantages of remote networking are clear. You can connect with people from all over the world; you can reach out to people you may never have the chance to meet in real life; and you can research and review someone’s work before you meet them. This can be especially useful if you’re just starting out in your career and don’t yet have opportunities to network with people in person.
How to network remotely
Some estimates suggest that about 70% of jobs are not found on public job search sites. This means that networking plays a big role in finding employment, with somewhere between 50-80% of jobs being filled this way. In an increasingly competitive economy, a good reference from your network can help differentiate you from the field.
While you may not have a large network now, don’t let that hold you back from building authentic connections. Connecting with peers and mentors in the marketing industry can open up doors for you in the future.
To get started, it’s important to prioritize online networking platforms that allow you to build relationships with others. Make sure to optimize your profile on LinkedIn and Twitter with your professional goals, background, and current role. This includes two or three brief, compelling sentences about who you are, what you’re passionate about, and your current position in the field. Don’t be afraid to brag a little bit!
Once you’re there, join relevant groups or online communities. This will allow you to connect with people who share your interests and goals, even if they live across the world. To help you get started, search for industry hashtags like #DigitalMarketing, #ContentMarketing, or #WomenInMarketing.
Follow relevant industry leaders and join conversations. Simply observing or liking posts won’t get you very far – be sure to actively engage in discussions, share your own ideas, ask questions, and provide value where you can. Imposter syndrome can be a powerful force, but do your best to remember that you have important insights to share.
Another great way to network remotely is through virtual meetups. Many industry leaders and networking groups regularly host webinars and virtual events so that you can join to connect with others in your field. The majority of these are free to join and can be a great way to meet potential mentors and peers.
After these events, try to send a specific and kindly-worded email to someone on the panel or in the chat you admired and would like to know better. If you show genuine interest, they will very likely reply. This can be a great way to open the door to a new relationship and is much more common than you think! And if they don’t reply, don’t let this discourage your networking. People are busy and it’s not personal. Keep trying!
Don’t forget about forums! These online communities offer the opportunity to connect with experts and ask questions about your industry or career. There are also many forums specifically for women in business, where you can learn from and support other driven female professionals. This can be helpful down the line as you navigate salary discussions, challenging managers, or when you’re in the market for a new role.
As a career-driven woman, it’s important that you don’t let a lack of in-person opportunities hold you back from building valuable relationships and progressing in your career. The most important thing is to remind yourself that you deserve to grow and thrive in the ways you desire.
With the right strategies and resources at your disposal, remote networking can open up new doors for you today and down the road. Whether you’re reaching out to old colleagues or connecting with influential leaders in your field, never underestimate the power of networking. With a little diligence and creativity, you can build a powerful network of connections that will create a foundation for success.