How to build your networks when you work online

I am joining a new company and will be working online. I wondered if you had any advice for people who are trying to build both their internal and external networks online in a new job.

Woman over 50 reading an email about winning prize in online lottery, success

Woman over 50 reading an email.

Initial impressions are often formed really early when it comes to starting a new role; you rarely get a second chance to make that first impression, so having a plan for the first 90 days in the new role can really help you hit the ground running, build momentum quickly, build your credibility in that new role and build your self-confidence.

Building relationships online is trickier than face to face, but the hybrid world is here to stay and you need to adapt your thinking to the virtual environment. Seek out those people who can help and support you as you won’t be getting help and support by walking around via osmosis so being very purposeful about the interactions you have can be really helpful.

I’d recommend being more planned in who you need to speak to online and how often. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can book in another session if it’s been very helpful e.g. if you’d booked in an hour and realise you need two. Make sure you have all the key people booked in virtually as quickly as you can – there’s no substitute for having those one to one meetings via video if they can’t be done in person.

Map out your relationships – e.g. your team/your stakeholders/your peers/your collaborators. If you have a team, virtually meet with those people regularly, ask lots of questions, actively listen and ask questions such as:

    1. what do you do?
    2. how do you do it?
    3. what works?
    4. what are you frustrated about?
    5. what are your career aspirations?

If you’re starting to analyse and investigate, you need to derive a vision, a strategy, a plan; and you’ll need to know your team’s structure and if the people in your team and the skills they’ve got are the right ones to move you forward.

When it comes to internal and external stakeholders – find out who they are and build relationships with them online. Ongoing communication is key. Understand what’s important to them, who might be an ally, who might be difficult and why that might be.

When it comes to collaborators (your peers) – if you’re in a team, your peers are all around you. If you’re a team leader (your peers might be in other teams), it becomes even more important as you need to build those relationships, work out who those allies are, who’s going to help you as a sounding board, who can you trust, who will be your confidant.

Some people like to create online chat groups for internal networks such as WhatApp or Slack in order to ask co-workers a question, request resources or share information about their role within the company. It’s also important to attend online events and network with attendees to develop your external network and use LinkedIn and other social media channels to connect to attendees after.

You need to be strategic and identify your targets, prioritising who to connect to first. It’s important to be authentic to yourself. Make sure you’re being authentic as it’s exhausting being someone you’re not. When you’re thinking about your 90-day plan, be who you are versus who you think they company want you to be. Actively listen to what people are saying and observe their body language (this can be harder online, but it’s absolutely possible).

*Liz Sebag-Montefiore is a career coach and Director of 10Eighty, a strengths-based HR consultancy. For more information, please visit www.10Eighty.co.uk.



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