Being remote can be solitary at times; working without a physical team in an office environment directly means less socialising, and connecting with people on a daily basis. This article emphasises the importance of networking as a remote worker, with clear advantages to help you gain fresh perspective on your work, industry and beyond.
To be clear, remote working does have its advantages; the control over your daily routines, work schedule and complete work and life balance. But I understand it’s not for everyone. As a remote designer, allocating time to networking should become a crucial part of your schedule. Be it once a year or once a month, networking will help generate contacts which may lead to new work and help form relationships with other designers in the industry or similar. You can also meet new people who may be looking for their next challenge, and may ask you for some tips; a great way to exchange knowledge.
Don’t force it
The value of networking as a remote worker can’t be dismissed, as selling your work is a crucial part of maintaining a constant stream of work and will personally help you gain a fresh perspective on the work you’ve created. By talking about your work and sharing your experiences, this may spark new insights and learnings about your process, with others providing an objective outsider point of view. I’ve personally found this point of view helpful in terms of gaining perspective on your work; and looking at the good and bad in each project; to overall improve your output.
Whilst working remotely in London, I never booked to attend events for the sole purpose of networking, as it felt forced and wouldn’t be productive for me. By booking industry focused talks, workshops and lectures, it allowed me to network with those directly around me, asking what they do within the creative industries and why they’re attending. It’s interesting to hear why others are attending the same event, as their aim or reason is not guaranteed to be the same as yours. I once met a fellow attendee to a UX event in Old Street who was completely new to the industry, as was trained in a more mathematical profession, but wanted to explore a new tech path. He explained how gaining tips off current industry workers via networking was crucial in landing his first tech job. He hadn’t considered remote working in the past, but was surprised to hear the perks of the lifestyle, such as schedule control and travel.
Utilise local events
In 2017, internet giant Mozilla held a series of pop-up tech events in Central London. The main tech exhibition, named ‘The Glass Room: Looking into your online life’ was a walk-in, and didn’t require ticketing, so I attended on a Saturday afternoon, following a morning working in my favourite London cafe, Timberyard. The exhibition room was filled with tech enthusiasts experimenting with the latest in the data technology and facial mapping. I got speaking to some of the members of the public there, who were fascinated with how much data these search engines have on us, and the impact it’s having on our personal lives. As a remote worker, it was great to visit an exhibition which in-directly links to your industry, and helped further educate me on the importance of data in the current tech age.
Walking around tech hubs like London, Manchester and Liverpool in England for example, it’s hard not to come across an event going on in the building you walk past. I tended to take note as I walked past any, to research later on; a great method of gaining insight into what other industries are speaking about, and the themes they’re working with. Attending alternative industry events has been valuable for me in the past, and has allowed me to gain ideas and insight into another theme I may not have thought about previously. Something I highly recommend to do.
As I worked from home on the most part (I still do), the events were mainly a great excuse to get out of the house, socialise and come back fresh with new ideas in your pocket. This emphasis on networking can applied to almost any event on your social calendar as a remote worker; meeting a friend for a coffee, working in a co-working space with other businesses around you, or even attending a life drawing class where I’ve met some industry-leading illustrators. These all help keep you sane as a remote worker, and enables you to gain new and fresh perspectives on your work and industry as a whole.
Photo credit: Stuart Williams