In this new era of remote work, the random elevator chats and the usual stop-by-your friend’s desk are almost a thing of the past. For us, it feels like some days are moving glacially slow without the usual office chatter here and there or the new connections we’d make through networking.
When was the last time you met up with a mentor, a mentee, an executive – someone, anyone? If the nostalgia of in-person networking is lingering in your mind, now might be the right time for you to shake things up a bit.
Have you thought about building your network remotely?
What if we told you the pandemic and remote work present ways to make networking more authentic and ‘be yourself-ish’ for Black professionals in tech?
Research shows that Black professionals must outwork and outperform their white counterparts to be seen as comparably skilled. Networking is a tool that can keep the Black community ahead, so we put together six tips you can leverage to network remotely.
1. Find a Community – Obsidi.com
If you haven’t seen or heard of Obsidi by BPTN – the largest multi-sided networking platform for Black professionals in the United States and Canada, you’ve been missing out. Obsidi.com is the hub of Black excellence, the sweet spot for remote networking, career development and elevation. Obsidi is a strong community of like-minded professionals and corporate partners, supporting each other to overcome barriers and achieve “big tings” in tech.
There are events, online competitions, job posts and just a vibe of being unapologetically Black while making moves in the tech space. We’re not saying you’re missing out on an opportunity to change your remote work and networking experience, but we are saying that you are missing out. Be seen. Be connected. Come home to Obsidi.com.
2. Diversify Your Bubble
On social media there’s a narrative about “keeping your circle small…” and “no new friends…” even before that, many of us created and lived in a bubble of some sort. Some people are comfortable sticking to their comfort zone or small group of friends or doing things the way you’ve always done them, because if it’s not broken why fix it? – The challenge with this perception is that it will keep you stuck and far from realizing your dreams.
How about we normalize researching a learning community, professional groups and Black professional tech networks with mentorship programs, Masterclasses, discussions and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)? These groups can help us move the needle. Besides, these are great opportunities to grow and meet people of every calibre beyond the walls of your work-from-home space.
3. Reach Out to People Online
Have you listened to a tech podcast lately or read a great article about your industry? Rather than sitting with your thoughts, why not follow, send a friend request or reach out via email to someone from the panel who resonated with you? People generally love sharing things about themselves, so this can be an open door to getting to know experts and seasoned professionals even more.
When you reach out, your immediate goal isn’t necessarily to ask for something or to establish a working relationship. Think of it more like – sending a couple of messages to share what you like about their work, share what you do and just ask a few relevant questions if you get a response. Networking remotely boils down to putting your foot out there, striking up conversations and letting the energy flow naturally – like dating.
4. Fill Your Calendar With Events
They say: “your network equals your net worth” and “show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.” Both quotes have one thing in common – an individual’s value is determined by the group he/she/they have around them.
A Google search or a scroll on socials can show you event calendars and networking events for Black professionals in tech, globally. The beauty about living life through your computer screen is that people can turn up anywhere in the world, at any time. A prime example of this is the BFUTR tech summit. Did you know BFUTR is the largest virtual gathering (20k+) of Black tech professionals globally? And, if you are a member of Obsidi by BPTN, the event is absolutely free. If you’re serious about scaling and taking your business or career to the next level, be intentional about showing up to social and professional events that can meet your personal or business goals.
5. Change Your Mindset
Truth is, networking, let alone networking remotely, isn’t really everyone’s cup of tea. While some people are desperately pining away for the return of happy hours, coffee breaks, and professional workshops, building relationships doesn’t come naturally or automatically for everyone.
It may even be fair to say some people feel like networking is a chore – you know one of those things that you must do to feel like you’re ticking the right boxes to elevate your career? But, changing your mindset and trying out remote networking can open the door to forming a robust alliance. It’s a step to getting your name and face out there, to crossing paths with the movers and shakers in tech. Success comes from hard work, but the majority is linked to who you know, who knows you and who’s in your corner.
6. Make a Commitment
A 2017 global LinkedIn survey shows that 80 percent of professionals said networking was important for career success – yet, half of the respondents said they were too busy to network. The same study also found that 70 percent of people in 2016 were hired at a company where they had a connection. Ironic, we know. If you’re a mid-level career grower in tech, be intentional about networking, authentic relationship building and stepping out of your comfort zone.
Set goals for yourself. Commit some hours to sharing, posting, asking questions. Set aside time for one-on-one or group networking. Sign up for Executive Networking sessions and just hang out with your peeps.
Our tips for remote networking will in no way eliminate the effects of isolation for Black professionals. However, these tips are actionable items that can help you to elevate your career experience.
Remember, networking starts at home with Obsidi.com.
‘Til next time, take care, tribe!