Especially today, knowing how to navigate the virtual world is crucial. If you want to know how to network from home, keep reading.
Understand what networking is
Arguably one of the most powerful tools of networking today, LinkedIn has millions of people at your fingertips. Now your first reaction might be to be a little anxious. “Isn’t this cold calling?” Yes and no. Cold calling would be bugging someone for them to give you something. Networking isn’t about begging strangers for jobs, it’s about building your professional relationships. So how do you network from home with LinkedIn?
The basic timeline of a new connection should be: Introduce, ask and give, follow up. Before you hit that “Connect” button, be sure to lightly research that person’s profile. Where are they located? Where have they worked, and in what roles? What are they interested in? Make a personal connection on your own before reaching out. Once you’ve established what your “link” is, send a message as you ask to connect.
Here’s a couple examples that’s worked for me.
Hi James, I found you through the ABC College Student Alumni Group. I’m working at DEF Company wanted to hear any advice you would have as a Rutgers alum who worked in X Industry.Our college has an alumni forum, but you could search through LinkedIn or your school’s database to search by career titles.
Hi Emily, I’m at DEF Company in a similar role as you in Manhattan, and do some work in [her client industry] as well. I thought we should connect and get to know each other!Here I searched on LinkedIn a company my company works with frequently, and scouted individuals around my age who were new to that company. This is my way of finding fresh leads in my area who don’t already have their established “go-to’s.”
Don’t outright ask for a job or a referral. Maybe in your perspective, it would be easy for that other person to allow you to use their name. But take a second to look at what that actually means. They will be putting their name and reputation within the company on the line for a complete stranger they’ve never met. (Especially sucks when they reach out to HR to give the stranger an interview and they don’t show up, leading to their embarrassment.) Rather, ask for their advice and opinions. Ask their opinion on something that happened to you at your current work or a recent interview. How are they enjoying their roles and company, and what do they think about the industry? Ask about how their company is handling the current market.
Remember to also make note to follow up after a few weeks. Build your professional relationship like you would your personal ones. Check up on this person, listen to their thoughts, and give your two cents as well. Wish them happy holidays and congratulate them on their birthday (Don’t click those standard birthday wish buttons. I can tell when you do that and it feels very inauthentic).
Know the purpose
Understand that others see networking as a benefit. They want something out of this exchange just as much as you do. While you shouldn’t waste their time with small talk every two weeks, provide your own meaningful insights and make productive conversation. I’ve had some pretty long-paragraph exchanges with my network before, and most come from those who are eager to mentor professionals younger than them.
Regardless of the reason you’re looking to grow your network, be sure to follow up, and keep in touch. Never let your connections fade!