We all know that getting out there and shaking hands is one of the most effective ways we can grow our networks. But, let’s be honest—sometimes getting off the couch seems downright impossible.
However, just because you’ve already parked your pajama-clad butt in your favorite seat doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t do anything productive. In fact, there are plenty of effective networking strategies you can put into play, without ever even needing to stand up.
Don’t believe me? Here are nine ways you can network, without ever leaving the comfort of those beloved cushions.
1. Participate in a LinkedIn Discussion or Twitter Chat
Just because you’re camped out at home doesn’t mean you can’t be social. Search for a Twitter chat about a topic that interests you and join in! Or, add your voice to a LinkedIn group discussion. You’ll get to connect and converse with new people—and it’ll keep you from talking to your dog.
2. Send Out Notes
Sure, technology is great. But, sometimes you just can’t beat a good, old-fashioned, handwritten note. So, whip out your stash of note cards and start jotting down some messages. Send a thank you note to the professional contact who met you for an informational interview last week. Pass along a hearty “Congratulations!” to your old supervisor for the recent promotion you saw on LinkedIn. Shoot over a “How are you doing?” to your former intern. I promise, it’ll hold a lot more meaning than an email or Facebook post.
3. Write a Guest Blog or LinkedIn Post
Content marketing is huge right now—so why not use that tactic to market yourself? If you have specific expertise to offer, reach out to an industry blog you follow to find out about contributing a guest post. Or, publish your own informative post on LinkedIn.
4. Tackle Unanswered Emails
We all know it doesn’t take long for your inbox to transform into one giant black hole. So, that request for a coffee date from your former mentor can be quickly buried beneath other messages and left without a reply.
Sift through the mess of your inbox and take some time to answer any lingering emails from your network. Then, watch in amazement as your schedule fills up with upcoming meet-ups and get-togethers!
5. Reach Out to Someone You Admire
Internet stalking someone you think highly of is one thing. But, it likely won’t get you far in your professional life. So, what’s stopping you from actually reaching out?
Send that person a LinkedIn message and connection request. Leave a thoughtful comment on one of her most recent blog posts. Or, send him a quick introductory tweet. Chances are, you’ll hear back. And, even if you don’t, that effort may just open the door to connecting with that person’s other admirers.
6. Write a LinkedIn Recommendation
Who doesn’t love receiving recognition for a job well done? Well, LinkedIn recommendations are a great way to do that publicly. But, for some reason, most of us are pretty stingy with writing them.
Visit a few profiles of current or former co-workers, and craft an astute and complimentary recommendation. Not only will this increase your presence on LinkedIn, but it will also up your chances of getting a solid recommendation in return.
7. Check in With Your References
Remember when you asked your very first supervisor to be one of your professional references eons ago? Well, when’s the last time you touched base with him or her?
Take the time to send a quick email to your references to check in on how they’re doing. Not only will you engage in a meaningful exchange, but it’ll also refresh your references’ memory about what an amazing employee you were. That positive impression never hurts—especially if you’ll be applying for a new position soon.
8. Search for Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteering with a local organization is a great way to meet new contacts in a much less formal and rigid environment than a traditional networking event. Plus, volunteering looks great on your resume and makes you sound like an awesome, philanthropic person in interviews.
So, do some research to find a cause that you’d like to get involved with. Sure, you’ll need to eventually get off the couch in order to actually volunteer your time, but the reward will be well worth it.
9. Polish Up Your Professional Brand
Is your LinkedIn profile photo embarrassingly outdated? Does your resume need some sprucing up? Is your professional portfolio looking like it was drunkenly created one night? Now’s the perfect time to give your professional brand a quick tune-up.
While this isn’t exactly networking, it’s a crucial step in making a positive first impression when you’re reaching out to strangers.
While there may be no replacement for the old-fashioned “shaking hands and kissing babies,” not all networking requires you to leave your house. Put some of these tips to work next time you’re settled into your couch, and you’re sure to grow your network. Nobody even needs to know that you did it all while wearing your bathrobe.