Networking in the home office: how to make it work

Working according to Corona This is how networking from the home office works

Virus is the mother of invention: since spring, professional meetings of all kinds have shifted to the digital. Source: imago images

Virus is the mother of invention: since spring, professional meetings of all kinds have moved to the digital realm.

Image: imago images

Networking also works without meetings. In the home office, beginners may even get ahead more easily – if they accept the central condition for success: Networking is a give and take.

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Alexis Eisenhofer has about 77.900 followers on Xing. According to the job platform, this makes him one of its top three users. Whether Corona had an impact on the follower count is of less interest to the super networker. "I haven’t counted the number of new contacts," says the co-founder and head of the Munich-based software company Financial.com. For him, it’s important to stay on the ball even in the home office: "Networking is always very important, regardless of the pandemic. One builds a reputation throughout one’s life."

Less professional networkers, however, are currently faced with the question of how to make professional contacts from the home office in times of canceled conferences and get-togethers. That’s where the Corona crisis provides the final impetus for the necessary digitization, according to Tijen Onaran, author of the book "The Networking Bible".

Online profile replaces business card

"If you don’t have a digital presence yet, you should do so as soon as possible," advises the CEO of Global Digital Women, which networks women in the digital industry. "Good networking thrives on the mix of online and offline." However, many people would neglect their digital profiles and focus on "analog" exchanges.

In theory, it’s not difficult to find new professional contacts on the Internet. Employees, self-employed people or entrepreneurs can accept contact requests on Xing, follow the platform’s contact suggestions or draw attention to themselves by joining online groups on suitable topics. Twitter displays posts in the timeline that followers have liked, pointing the way to new connections. Or simply browsing the "follow me" list of successful industry representatives.

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Alexis Eisenhofer: The master of the Xing network

Alexis Eisenhofer The master of the Xing network

Even cancelled conferences help in making new contacts in times of distance rules. Alisa Cohn and Dorie Clark, in the Harvard Business Review, advise asking event organizers for their list of speakers and attendees. From those, filter out five to ten contacts where there are common interests or points on their resume (such as college). The authors then recommend making contact via email or social media, along the lines of "Do you feel like meeting for coffee or Zoom?"

Networking via video chat is not limited to one-on-one conversations. Virtual get-togethers and mini-conferences are becoming more popular in the corona crisis.

Linus Dahlander from the private business university ESMT Berlin also attends virtual business lunches, meetings and workshops these days. "But it’s almost exclusively people I already know who take part in it," the holder of the Chair of Innovation qualifies. Even the networking expert had to realize in the Corona crisis: "It’s more difficult to make new connections."

Because following someone on Twitter or sending contact requests is by far the easiest part of digital networking. For this to actually bring something – more reputation, new orders or a better job – commitment is required. According to the experts, these four factors are crucial for successful online networking.

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