Gotta say “ish”, because if you’re from Chicago you know — “THE BURBS DON’T COUNT!”
But they should, because I run into burbs-folk from my childhood all the time in this Windy City.
Even this past weekend, I ran into my friend Brian at the movie premier of Win It All at The Music Box Theater. He was even IN THE MOVIE! And I had no idea he’d be there. What a great surprise.
Last month, I ran into two friends from middle school at networking events. Correction — at THE SAME networking event!
So yeah — Sweet Home Chicago!
Networking in my own city is like breathing. But, what does someone do when they’re trying to network outside their city?
How do remote workers build a “digital home base”?
Over the weekend, I coached someone via The Muse and we got to talking about this very question.
It is common knowledge that applying through online portals is like throwing your resume into a black hole. The chances of hearing back are extremely low.
So, the better way to get a new gig is to know someone who can sneak you in the back door. A friend, a reference, a 1st, or 2nd degree connection on LinkedIn who can throw you a bone.
If you’re networking in your own city, these connections are easier to cultivate, plant, and harvest. You can go to a networking event, have an awkward small-talk hello, grab coffee the next week, stay in touch, and eventually work together.
But, if you’re online everything is deliberate, and a little strange. You have to have a reason to initiate contact. You have to invite them to chat on the phone, or skype. You have to keep in touch without crossing paths at a future networking event.
So, what is a remote worker to do?!
Is “Content Networking” a thing?
The idea that popped into my head is something that I loosely dubbed “Content Networking” — which I am sure is already a thing and probably has a different definition. But, let’s go with it, because I think it described the following extremely well.
Content Networking, in my mind, all comes down to giving yourself excuses to meet people.
If I am networking in my own city, the excuses are often times created for me. Meetups, networking events, alumni gatherings, etc. These give me excuses to have run-ins with my network on a regular basis and keep the relationships alive and well.
But, online it is a bit more difficult. Emailing someone to “pick their brain” has become cliche, and providing value is the new norm. But, how do you engage and provide value?
Let’s look at two ways this can be done.
#1 — FIRST!
When people create and publish content, chances are pretty darn good they want people to read/consume it. But, if you just read it and move on, how will they ever know you were there? How will you ever start an epic conversation?
I know a ton of business deals that have happened by commenting on people’s online presence. So, if you want to meet someone who works at a company in a city far-far-away, start engaging with the stuff their putting out there.
Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat (…maybe), and MEDIUM! (I read every comment).
See what they’re sharing and share what you’re thinking!
Commenting on someone’s post in a thoughtful way gives you an excuse to continue the conversation. And if you can provide some cherry-on-top-value, all the better!
Two years back, Rajiv Nathan and I decided we wanted to have intriguing conversations with interesting people. But, we knew it would be weird to just call up a random stranger and say, “Want to talk about the meaning of life for an hour?!”
So, we started a podcast — Discover Your Inner Awesome! And it instantly gave us an excuse to sit down and have epic existential conversations with friends and strangers.
If we had reached out and just said, “Hey! We like your podcast. Want to grab coffee??”, there is a 0% chance that we would have ever met, gotten to know each other, and had hours-and-hours of thought-provoking conversations over the past year.
ENGAGE, CREATE, &…
These two forms of “Content Networking” are a good start, but are by no means the only ways to do it.
As I said in the beginning of this post — I grew up in, and currently live in Chicago. In-person networking is still my beast of choice. But, I’ve seen both these strategies be executed well time-and-time again.
But, I know many of you out there are remote workers who have to deal with this on a regular basis. What tips do you have?
Help out other remote workers in the comments and talk to each other about what has worked, hasn’t worked, and what is too much work. We want everyone to get the best bang for their buck (or time) when it comes to these things.
Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing. Much love!
by Martin McGovern