5 Networking Tips When You Work From Home

5 Networking Tips When You Work From Home
Networking is hard enough even when you don't work from home. Sure, being a freelance or remote worker comes with many perks—freedom to be on conference calls in your pajamas, working from your bed, traveling as much as you want, and avoiding an annoying commute.
But, like most things in life, the work from home perks also come with challenges you have to tackle.

When you are working from home, especially full-time (or for long periods of time), you start to feel like a cave woman. I once didn’t leave my house for two weeks because I was so absorbed in my work. Consider that. Two weeks where I didn’t interact face-to-face with humans, breathe public air, or get any vitamin D. It’s easy to feel less connected to the outside world when you’re not exactly required to be in it.

Building your own professional network when you work from home is essential to both your sanity and also your career success. Being a well-connected woman will open the doors for you to tap into new opportunities, propel you further in your career, and beef up your resume or portfolio.

You should be the woman that knows everyone and the woman that everyone wants to know. So how do you do that as a freelance or remote worker? Try starting with some of these networking ideas:

Join a local networking organization

A year into being a full-time freelancer I felt alone, but I knew that void could be filled if I found a networking organization which matched my beliefs and missions. I did a quick Google search and found the national organization, American Association of University Women (AAUW), which had local branches and even had a branch in my area. I joined and truly dove into the organization and the local, state and national work the organization strives to accomplish.

In joining a local organization, you will be connected to members of the community, which opens the door to their network. Their network may include the CEO who works for a company you have been pitching to for months but haven’t had success landing the gig. At the very least, these branch members will become new friends who are rooting for your success and have your back if you ever need some support. You also have a hand in changing and giving back to your community, which is rewarding and will be an emotional boost.  

Serve on nonprofit boards or volunteer

Oftentimes when you work from home, there's more free time in your schedule, which means you get the chance to pick up a couple of passion projects or spend time volunteering. If you are big on volunteering your time and efforts to some of your favorite charities, consider taking your commitment a step further and see if you can serve on the board of that charity or nonprofit.

Serving on a nonprofit board will give you a seat at the table next to entrepreneurs, CEOs, community leaders, investors, etc., basically everyone you want to have in your professional networking arsenal. Your fellow board members will also get to see your work, leadership and initiative first hand, which only means good things for you. As a board member, you are also connected to the volunteers, community members, local government officials, as well as other people who you may come across during your time serving. Plus you are doing your part to give back to people in need - it’s a win-win situation!

Check out your community place of worship (if that's your thing)

Many people seek comfort and community at their local places of worship. Attending a service or meeting at your local place of worship, whatever faith you may be, can offer you more than just spiritual guidance.

Faith-based communities can be great places to seek opportunities to get involved in the church, community, and connecting with parishioners. Those parishioners are most likely professionals or retired professionals who may be significant contacts to have in your network. And if they aren’t the exact contact you were hoping for, I bet they have someone they can refer you to who will be or they will pray that you will find what you are searching for.

Show your alumni spirit

You spent four (or five) years of your life attending college. Maybe you were the student who was extremely involved and held leadership positions in everything or maybe you were the student who spent more time in the dorm room than you did attending university events. Either way, now is your chance to show your spirit as an alumna, while also building your professional network.

For some reason, people usually love connecting with their fellow alumni. It’s some unshakeable bond to look out for other people who survived through the same classes and professors, and frequented the same bars and fraternity parties that you did. Attending alumni events, whether back at your alma mater or local alumni events being hosted in your city/town, will have your LinkedIn profile receiving a lot of connections. Plus, you get to swap some interesting stories with those new connections - sounds like fun to me.

Find some work from home "coworkers"

As a freelance or remote worker, you most likely only interact with other people you may work with over the phone or by email. If you miss having coworkers and your cat isn’t cutting it with keeping you company every day, then it’s time to seek coworkers elsewhere.

There are many coworking office spaces all over the world for remote workers where you can get out of your house, work from designated office spaces, and mingle with fellow freelancers and remote workers. This network will understand your remote work struggles and be great resources if you ever have a question or issue.
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What are some of the ways you have built a professional network when working from home?