by Rebecca Harmon, MPM, RHIA, CCA
We are several weeks into a sea change in our daily lives. Not only can we work from home, but we are being encouraged to remain at home outside of work as well. I was scheduled to speak at two different annual meetings that have been cancelled, and my own organization has cancelled our annual meeting. As I pondered the current state of things and these cancellations, I began to give some attention to the challenge of networking when we are limited in our face-to-face interactions – whether by work assignment (remote work situations) or larger issues (a global pandemic).
What can we do to stay connected, and plugged into the larger HIM community when we are working from home?
In my previous article (“Working from Home: The Critical Skills You Need to Practice to be the Best Version of Yourself”) I addressed some best practices for keeping a professional focus even when we are working from home. In this article, I would like to share some tips for staying connected when we are working remotely.
Thankfully, we live in a time when technology has made connecting simple! The first recommendation I have is to make sure you have a LinkedIn page (sign up for free at linkedin.com), and that you keep it up-to-date. Use LinkedIn to reach out and connect to people within your organization and to make new connections outside your organization. While other social media sites, such as Facebook and Instagram, are a lot of fun and a great way to stay connected to family and friends, LinkedIn is more specifically geared to maintaining and growing your professional connections.
Another way to grow your network is to read the articles and posts that others share and leave a substantive comment if you are hoping to expand your connections. Everyone loves to know that the things they post are being read so a ‘LIKE’ and a comment is a simple ice breaker.
I also recommend “reading across the industry” and sharing your knowledge. This is a terrific way to get others to connect with you about the information you have shared.
Also be willing to share information when someone is putting an “ask” out there. Sometimes it takes a few minutes of your time, but the return on that time investment is worth it!
Within your closer circle of current and former colleagues, email is the best way to stay in touch. It is a good idea to reach out regularly, just to say hello. This keeps the lines of communication open and helps to facilitate better communications that can result in things like a heads-up on a coming job opening, or other opportunities.
While conversations on the phone have declined while email usage has surged, this does not mean that the phone is obsolete. Sometimes, a good old-fashioned conversation can clear up confusion, make a good impression and these days – keep us connected, person-to-person.
American writer and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” I would say the same applies to networking: if we want to benefit from networking with others, we need to reciprocate and share what we can, when we can.
Post that tip sheet. Share a job opening in your organization. Be willing to make an introduction for someone. Send a kind note when you know someone is facing a challenge.
Networking is not really about the hors d’oeuvres tray or the small talk around tall tables. It is about being your authentic self and being in service to others. When we plant those seeds – in person or online – we can grow a bountiful network that serves us and others for many years!
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