Hybrid Work Environments Are Here To Stay. How Are You Breaking Through The Geographic Divide?
When it comes to consultants' success, networking and professional development are key. Learn how to effectively network and engage with professional peers in virtual formats to continue your growth and increase placement opportunities.
Articles published September 30, 2021 by Holly Veeder
Working from home and virtual conferencing began as basic business continuity strategy due to the global pandemic in 2020. Since then, these concepts have become the new paradigm of business life – creating both opportunities and challenges to the adapting workforce. As major players across multiple industries announce permanent remote and hybrid working strategies – Twitter, Salesforce, Google, LinkedIn, and more – organizations and their employees are being forced to acclimate to the changing culture in order to succeed.
A critical component to consultants’ success is networking and professional development. These strategies help consultants stay up-to-date on important information, grow their knowledge and awareness of trending needs in their industry, and create opportunities to grow their network and become acquainted with corporate decision makers. So, with in-person opportunities on the decline, how can you grow your network and enhance your skillset from home? Consider this compilation of strategies when it comes to virtual networking and professional development:
1. Join Networking Groups
It may seem obvious to virtually connect with professional groups to grow your network, but it’s important to be purposeful. Consider multiple platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Slack to connect with peers, industry experts, and even your alma mater.
2. Take Advantage of Co-working Spaces
Virtual office solutions provide spaces for employees to connect about work and beyond. These platforms enable fast and effective communication, collaboration, and engagement. They also create an opportunity for non-work communication – allowing you to screen share and express appreciation for your peers and teammates. Using these spaces, you can schedule meetups with people in your community, on your team, or at other organizations to network and engage in professional development.
3. Attend Virtual Conferences
Virtual conferences are on the rise and are more accessible than ever thanks to their new format. Register and attend virtual conferences to gain valuable insights into your industry, participate in educational discussions, and take advantage of networking opportunities. Set up one-on-one appointments with experts and peers before or after the virtual events to connect and discuss the exciting content of presenters.
4. Extend Your Reach
Before the pandemic, employees would attend business conferences and network engagements based on geographic location and budget constraints. Now, employees can select opportunities with the most potential – regardless of location and cost – thanks to the expansive growth of virtual opportunities. This allows you to be more selective and purposeful with your networking and professional development participation.
5. Send Check-In Emails to Keep Relationships Fresh
While it’s a simple concept, sending emails to stay in touch is an effective way to make sure you remain top-of-mind. Consistently following up with professionals already in your network via email is a great way to share updates about your career progress, goals, and interest in new opportunities.
6. Maintain a High Level of Professionalism
Even though your working environment may be casual at home, it’s best to keep a formal approach to professional networking and development. Continue to look the part and stick to professional rhetoric when it comes to social media platforms and other virtual meeting spaces. Even though the way we connect has changed, the importance of first impressions has not.
The evolution to remote and hybrid working environments will no doubt continue into 2022 and beyond. With companies implementing work from home strategies every day, it is estimated that 70 percent of the workforce will be working remotely at least five days a month by 2025. This means employers and employees will be required to break through the geographic divide and embrace virtual opportunities for networking and professional development in the days, months, and years to come.