Does networking virtually get you anywhere in your career?
The term “working in a silo” is no longer used when describing different departments that don’t talk to each other. If you work from home, you can become an island or silo within your workplace just because you are physically not at the office. Remote work is being offered in many industries and people are jumping to these positions because they feel they can have a better work-life balance. But how do you get promoted if you are not seen or heard in the office?
Here are four tips to help you navigate the virtual space at your company and get recognized:
1. Volunteer for projects or initiatives: Within every company there are cross-functional initiatives or projects that get setup so to improve the workplace. Usually this is work that goes beyond your daily work and thus, few people offer up their time to be on these teams. You hear a lot of “I have no time for this...” Be different, allocate some time to your schedule, speak to your manager, and get on one of these groups. These initiatives come from the company’s strategy and therefore will have at least one executive as a sponsor.
IMPORTANT: Don’t join a project because your friend at work is joining. Join because you want to be noticed for your capabilities, to bring your expertise to the project, and to have the willingness to help. In turn, you will network with other employees at work, get visibility from the top, and depending on how successful the project is once completed, see doors opening for you for your next role.
2. Don’t just attend events, participate: Many companies hold their all-hands or town meetings both in a virtual or in-person setting. You may have heard that being at the meeting in-person is better so that your company’s leadership see you. Sure, you get the possibility to mingle before and after the meeting, networking in-person. But if you stick with people, you already know, then being at the in-person meeting will not help your career. The truth is, if you are just sitting in a crowd or in front of a monitor, the head of your company will see you the same way, as an attendee. You only get singled out in these events if you speak up by asking a question, you are part of the agenda, or you are getting recognized for a reward.
IMPORTANT: It is tempting and safe to be with your colleagues at the meeting. Avoid doing so, especially if you are in-person. This is a wonderful opportunity to network, and you don’t want to waste it by chatting with those you already have a rapport at work. If you are virtual, be brave and ask a question so to have everyone knows you are present for the meeting. This may open doors to further dialogue.
3. Offer to become a mentor: This is a fantastic way of giving back and getting to know more about your organization. Based on your specialty, there are always newbies that can profit from your expertise and experience. Reach out to your HR department to ask if there is a mentoring program in place.
IMPORTANT: Some will mentor within their department, which is fine, but it limits your exposure. You want to see if you can be assigned someone from another department to mentor.
4. Dedicate 5-10% of your time chatting it up: This is easier done in-person where you go to the lunchroom or coffee area and strike up a conversation with whomever is there. Though more challenging when virtual, many companies have chatrooms. Posting a question, a thought, or a note to initiate a conversation. Or you can join an active conversation in the chatroom by commenting on the post. Think of the kids who play video games, and their friends are people they never met in person but play in the game. This is the same concept.
IMPORTANT: If there aren’t chatrooms in your company, use LinkedIn. This is the perfect platform for professionals to connect and network. I posted a comment on a post that got thirty likes. And what's better is I noticed my profile having been viewed by over one hundred people.
Remember you may be physically alone working remotely, but that doesn’t mean you need to be mentally alone. Next time you feel in a silo, get involved and try one of the methods listed above. Let me know how it works out for you…