A few months into this unexpected workplace experiment, it turns out: We’re kind of into it.
One June survey of people forced to work from home by Covid-19 found that 82% wanted to continue doing so at least two days per week, and 35% wanted to continue full time.
The problem is: We like being around each other, too. And, professionally, we need it. Many of our best new opportunities come from encounters with other people. When you sit somewhere new in the office cafeteria you could learn about an opening in another department. In pre-meeting chitchat, a client might give you a lead on a new opportunity.
We’re all experimenting with how to work without the accidental but potentially deep connection that face-to-face conversations facilitate — even when it’s just two colleagues greeting each other in a hallway.
Digital networking is possible, but it’s rarely effortless.Here’s how to do it well.
You’re in Charge of Your Story
If the last six months seem like wasted time, you can change the narrative
Say “Thank you”
Expressing gratitude renews ties with someone you haven’t talked with for a while, and it’s always welcome. One study found that people actually underestimate how happy recipients will be when they receive thank-you letters. Your manager from three jobs ago would love to hear how you used the presentation skills that she helped you develop. “Thank You” is also an excellent subject line for cold emails to people you admire — even if it’s just to thank them for the work they put out into the world.
While this habit’s immediate payoff is feeling good about the world, the secondary benefit is connection: learning what past connections are up to, or creating an opening for a friendly chat. Your old manager might know somebody who would be perfect for that role you’re trying to fill, or that product designer you admire might be willing to meet for a coffee.