Create Virtual Water Cooler Moments
Over the past few weeks, circumstances have created new converts to remote work. As a long-time work-from-home sort, I’m quite sure I’m more productive, and have more energy for the rest of life, without a daily commute. 

But even if people are finding remote work necessary, I keep reading about how it’s not as good for relationship building or networking. While it’s true that meeting face-to-face is great, this doesn’t need to happen nearly as often as people think in order to create close ties. As one example: my Best of Both Worlds podcast co-host, Sarah Hart-Unger, and I have only met in person half a dozen times. But we’ve managed to build what I think is a successful, creative enterprise, and had a lot of fun together in the process. 

Likewise, I am part of a writing strategy group that meets once a month by video chat. I consider these people my close colleagues, but I can count my in-person meetings with all of them during the last five years on one hand. 

That said, building ties virtually does require more intentionality than just bumping into people at the water cooler. I like to use a phrase from Kelly Hoey, author of the book Build Your Dream Network. She tells people to create virtual water cooler moments. These are little chances to affirm your ties and your common humanity. 

For instance, if you read or hear about someone you know, shoot that person an email and ask how life is going. If you bump into a mutual friend, you can send a message about that too. If you read an article you know one of your connections might find interesting, send it along. Post a comment on a social media post. If you read a book or listen to an album or podcast someone recommended, send a note of thanks for the recommendation. If someone you know is traveling to another friend’s town, offer to make an introduction (double opt-in, please. It’s less awkward for everyone.) 

These little acts of networking don’t have to be profound. Indeed, they’re best if they’re casual. But they should be frequent — just like you’d chat around a water cooler. They’re not a distraction from work. They’re a big part of work, and that’s doubly true when you’re not physically in the same place as your colleagues. 

If you’ve built up good systems for remote networking, I’d love to hear about them. You can respond directly to this email. 
 
All the best,

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