Working from home does not mean that you need to refrain from networking. In fact, these days when we are not seeing colleagues, adversaries, and clients as regularly, it can feel as if the old adage, “out of sight, out of mind” actually applies. And while we may no longer be able to schedule lunch dates or attend cocktail parties or sporting events to market and develop business, there are still many creative ways to connect with others and even develop new contacts without leaving our home office. Here are some tips to get started:
Schedule a Virtual Social Hour
If your primary marketing tool is meeting with contacts in person, think about how to keep up your connections virtually. Instead of taking a contact out to lunch, reach out to schedule a virtual morning coffee, lunch break, or social gathering after work. Your contacts who are working at home will likely be available and will look forward to having a fun diversion. You can even ask each contact to invite a friend/colleague and increase the opportunity to extend your network. The bottom line is that this is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to get people together and to have some fun as well.
Keep Up With Social Media
Developing and maintaining a social media presence for purposes of business development is more important than ever, especially because we are all spending more time on-line. When developing content for your social media sites, think about what your prospective clients need. Share topical information, promote articles that you have written, connect with others in your field. Now, while you have the time, invest it in developing the social media presence you always thought about but never had the opportunity to create.
Attend Seminars Virtually
While we are not able to travel to exotic destinations to meet with our colleagues at bar association meetings or other similar events, there are still many opportunities to attend these gatherings virtually, and they still present an excellent opportunity to connect with colleagues and develop new relationships. Unexpectedly, these conferences still frequently contain virtual networking sessions which may include time in breakout rooms where you are essentially required to meet new people and chat for a few minutes together before moving on. In fact, these sessions may prove to be more fruitful in business development than traditional in-person meetings where most of us socialize with only the people we already know.
Maintain a Festive Spirit
While there won’t be in-person parties or luncheons this year, it does not mean that special occasions should be overlooked as an excellent opportunity to network and connect. Create a virtual holiday or event card and make sure to send it to all of your contacts. Send a gift basket to or make a donation to a charity for the benefit of your referral sources. Schedule some time to simply call those with whom you have not connected for some time just to share a greeting or to see how they are faring. A holiday is a perfect time to connect with our business associates and clients to thank them and wish them well. Good wishes are just as meaningful when delivered virtually or by phone as they are in person.
Working from home poses many challenges, but maintaining our business development goals should not be one of them. With some creativity and some rethinking of traditional networking methods, we can all find a way to continue to network and develop business without leaving home.