Working remotely is becoming a way of life for many millennials who want to avoid a set routine and don’t function well in the 9 to 5 rut. It’s an excellent option for people who like juggling multiple passions, plus it can also (sometimes) pay you considerably well without the nagging of an annoying boss. But freelancers are often of the opinion that working-from-home, as it’s popularly called, affects their people skills since they end up meeting no one all day. It’s just a laptop screen for company, and instructions via emails or text messages. In a set-up like this, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain your professional contacts.
Firstly, I cannot emphasise enough on the importance of networking, or simply keeping in touch with people. This applies to those in your industry and otherwise. Only once you start interacting with people, do you realise the real potential an association can hold.
So, if you’re a freelancer, who spends close to 8-10 hours a day lounging in the comfort of your home, behind a computer screen, how do you network?
I am an introvert who hates talking to people on most days, and a freelancer who knows how important it is. Which is why, I am going to share some fool-proof ways of networking online and offline, for those of you who are working from home.
Be a part of all the ‘reunions’
An essential part of networking is to keep in touch with your old friends, acquaintances and associates. These guys are the ones you can count on to lend a helping hand, especially career-wise. Besides that, it’s good to connect with old folks once in a while to know what is happening on the other side of the world. Plus, you never know what you learn and how you can use it in your own life. So say yes to all those college reunion parties, ex-colleague meet-ups and school friends’ parties.
Check out networking events
If you live in a bustling city like Mumbai, you’ll come across multiple events and gatherings being conducted for like-minded individuals. These are great opportunities to network and expand your contact list. You never know where you’ll find your next best friend. So, make it a point to attend at least one such networking event in a month. It’s not only useful to meet new people, but the experience can be handy in accelerating your career graph.
In Mumbai, Networking Now India is one such group that organises popular meet-ups.
You can also be a part of Career Guidance With Kool Kanya to connect and network with working women across India.
If you are still having a hard time locating an exciting event, check out insider.in or bookmyshow.com for leads for events. Many large scale conventions and grand meet-ups are often advertised, and you’ll surely come across them.
Join community organisations
Many communities have youth organisations or teams that are assigned specific community-based tasks. Participation is voluntary and may take up some of your time, but they are great networking tools. It’s a platform to meet people from your community, and people immediately connect thanks to their shared beliefs.
I, for instance, am part of the community-based youth organisation, Rotaract Club of Mumbai Downtown. The club has many members in the same age group as me, and apart from working towards meaningful social causes, we’ve also developed beautiful bonds that come in handy in many ways. We (Bohri-Muslims) also have scout clubs, young women’s clubs and many such organisations within the community, that are great ways of networking.
Get social media savvy
You already know this, but let me give you some perspective. Stalking people on social media is not what it entails. When I say, be social media savvy, I mean make posts, share articles or even like and comment. Adding someone as a friend on Facebook doesn’t qualify as knowing them anymore. You need to make sure they remember you and get to know you, after adding you.
That is also what your relationships on LinkedIn should be like. Proactive behaviour is what will attract people and get them to notice you. So get the basics of the medium right and every once in a while, post an update. Even better if it’s about an achievement at work. This will surely get people to take notice.
Of course, add all your acquaintances, ex-colleagues and industry peers to your social network and send them the customary birthday wishes once in a while. Yes, that counts too.
Pick up the phone regularly
Are you one of those people who hate having long conversations on WhatsApp? I often end up not looking at my phone for long hours, which means I miss many messages. So here’s a tad bit tough but way more effective solution. Pick up the phone. Once in a while, make it a point to dial the numbers and physically talk to people. It could be anyone from a potential client or an old friend; nothing beats having a real conversation. Plus, you’ll connect to the person better in actual words, and there’s no way, he or she forgets this gesture, especially in a world that’s become increasingly dependent on texting!
A good idea is to call people on their birthdays. It’ll make them feel special, and you’ll have a motive to call that can then lead to other things. Try it out.
Drop in a random text/comment
If you’d do anything but talk to people on the phone, then it’s a good idea to do the next best thing – text. But I do not mean having long conversations through text messages. What I am indicating is taking out some time to randomly text someone, telling them that you were thinking of them and inviting them to meet. These are things that people will remember and eventually help forge connections. Even positive comments on their social media posts can make a great deal of difference to your equation. Plus, it’ll always lead up to more extended conversations, which can have a fruitful outcome.