Many of us think that we need to become an expert in our chosen field, whether it be nursing, engineering, writing, plumbing, programming, etc. And that is true. However, being the best at the “technical” aspects of your job will not be enough for the future. According to a report conducted by The University of Phoenix, there are 10 skills that we will all need to succeed in the future and none of them have to do with being an expert in your field. They are all related to our ability to grasp and work with complex ideas, to innovate and work with people who are different from ourselves. This month LTAW will feature the skills named in the report and give you ideas for how you can attain these additional abilities.
Despite what has been going on at Yahoo and Best Buy regarding ending work from home arrangements, telecommuting is still predicted to be the way of the future. It has been estimated that 45% of the US workforce are potential telecommuters. In 2010 some 13.4 million people worked from home, compared to 9.2 million in 1997. With the increase in telecommuting comes the decrease in face-time, therefore making it harder to build your network. Who cares, you ask? Well you should! Networking is a critical piece of your career success puzzle. It is still very much more about “who you know” in the work world than it is about what you know.
Networking can help you if you’re looking for a new job – 80% of today’s jobs are landed through networking. Networks can also help you succeed in your current position – you never know who people know and what knowledge they possess if you do not take the time to connect with them. Having a solid network helps us learn about new opportunities, expand our world view, and see new possibilities. However, building your network may prove to be difficult if you work from home.
Here are some ideas for networking if you’re a telecommuter:
LinkedIn. Most people have heard of LinkedIn and have a profile on the professional networking site (if you don’t here are some of our tips on how to use LinkedIn effectively). LinkedIn is a great way to build an online network. You start by connecting with people you know, and you can grow your network by asking them to initiate connections between yourself and people in their network. LinkedIn also has myriad groups of various topics to join where people are sharing their thoughts, asking questions and offering advice. Once you have built your online network, don’t stop there. Ask to meet with some of these folks face to face and really enrich your relationship.
Go to a coffee shop. Some work from home jobs are not that flexible, meaning you cannot truly “work from anywhere”. For example, I have a friend who works from home but it’s basically like he just picked up his cubicle from work and moved it into his house. He has to be at his desk between 8-5 and has scheduled breaks and lunchtime. If you’re one of the lucky ones where your telecommuting job allows you to truly be mobile, consider working from a coffee shop or bookstore sometime. You may meet some interesting people while you’re there that can help you succeed in some aspect of your career.
Get involved with professional/trade organizations. This is good advice whether you work from home or not. It’s always a good thing to talk with others in your same line of work, or the line of work you may be seeking to get into in the future. By joining a professional organization you can establish ongoing relationships or deepen existing relationships with others who have common professional interests and similar business concerns. These relationships will undoubtedly serve as a source for ideas, inspiration, advice and friendship.
Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people. Serving your community is obviously a good thing to do. It can also be a good thing for your career. You may learn new skills such a leadership, speaking, administration, etc. and may also get noticed by the top brass in your field.
Go into the office. If you do work for a company that actually has a physical location nearby, consider going into the office at least once a month. Some organizations have cubicles or offices set up just for this purpose. This is a good way to not only get to know the people who you work with better, but also the organization itself. Just make sure you don’t wear your pajama’s to the office!
Working from home does not mean you have to sit up in your house in your pajama’s all day and never connect with another person again. Find creative ways to continue to build your network even as a telecommuter.
Related Article(s) from LTAW:
Futurize Your Skills!
Are you a telecommuter? What are some of the things you do to build your network?
Photo credit: Kevin Harber