8 Tips for Remote Career Development & Networking
As hybrid workplaces with a mix of in-person and remote work become the rule, many remote or partially remote workers wonder how to keep their planned career trajectories on track. The good news is that the lessons learned during the fully remote phase of the COVID-19 pandemic make networking and professional development at a distance far more accessible than they were before the pandemic.
Here are eight quick tips to help you thrive remotely:
1. Seek mentoring
While face time is valuable, remote mentorship can be just as effective. Mentors and mentees can build lasting, mutually beneficial relationships by blending asynchronous communication with virtual meetups over video chat. Moreover, remote mentoring opens incredible opportunities to teach and learn across distances — and to maintain long-term relationships even when life takes you elsewhere.
2. Take advantage of webinars
Many professional development events are in-person once again, but webinars are much more common than before the pandemic and are likely to remain so. Look for distance options for CLE and conferences when available, and when you attend a webinar, make your voice heard by participating in the Q&A or chat. After the event, add participants and presenters on LinkedIn to solidify the connection, and consider a brief thank-you note to the presenters. You can even include an insightful question or comment to keep the conversation going.
3. Roll out your Rolodex
Make a point to reach out to your contacts regularly. Sending a sincere, personalized message to mark professional transitions, birthdays and life events can be a significant way to nurture relationships. You might also reach out about articles or CLEs related to mutual interests, or you could offer support to a colleague contemplating a shift in practice areas or firms.
4. Collaborate and communicate
Working remotely might make it hard to feel connected to your colleagues, so communicate proactively. If your team uses an online platform for real-time communication — like an instant messenger, WhatsApp, or Slack — be sure you’re responsive and keep meaningful conversations flowing. Rely on video and voice — phone calls instead of emails, video meetings instead of conference calls — to reinforce interpersonal connections.
5. Make remote work work for you
Focus on ways to maintain your productivity and teamwork. Lean toward more communication to keep everyone in the loop. When you can’t pop by someone’s desk, ask if they’re up for texting or a quick call instead. And although working from home offers the appeal of wearing pajamas all day, you’ll feel better and get more done if you put on what you’d wear to the office, just like any other morning.
6. Rely on routine
The flexibility of remote work can be a double-edged sword. The urge to eschew routine can leave you feeling adrift and impact your effectiveness — or you might find yourself working at all hours, regardless of the true urgency of your work. As much as possible, try to sync routines with your co-workers and create structure in your day — including setting work hours that support your overall well-being whenever possible.
7. Keep wellness in mind
Almost everyone can benefit from adding movement and stress-reduction activities into their day, and remote work can offer new opportunities. A lunchtime stroll or meditation session could help you stay focused on afternoon work tasks and enhance your overall well-being. Some attorneys also find that going for a walk is an invaluable tool for working through tricky legal problems.
8. Consider a coach
Despite your best efforts, you may miss out on some training and development opportunities. In addition to any online resources your firm may be offering, consider engaging a career coach specializing in attorney professional development to fill the gap and help keep you on track in advancing your skills and expertise.
Hybrid work environments may be relatively new, but our collective knowledge about integrating remote work into law firm practice has grown tremendously. Crafting a rewarding legal career while working remotely is not just possible — for some, it’s a perfect fit for a more balanced, productive and healthy life.