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How to Stay Connected to Your Network While Working From Home

Written By Jenna Britton | Jun 2, 2021

A former coworker popped into my head the other day.

We last connected over a quick video call in December. I was leaving the company at the end of the month and, as colleagues who had spent very many Microsoft Teams calls — and before 2020, very many cross-building meetings — with one another, we wanted… well, not to say goodbye so much as to say so long for now.

And yet, here we are, nearly five months later, nary a Google calendar-ed catch-up call in sight.

It isn’t just the office gossip we’ve been missing; it’s the kinship. It’s a sense of wellness that comes from being in a community working together toward a common goal.

Even pre-pandemic, it’s never been particularly easy — at least not to me, a friendly but introverted INFP — to stay regularly connected with your professional community. And the near worldwide move to work from home last year didn’t make things much easier.

And while it seems we’re beginning to see the light at the end of this long, traumatic tunnel, there may be some lingering side effects from this last year.

An article from Hackensack Meridian Health cites Mindy Altschul, a licensed clinical social worker at Hackensack Meridian Carrier Clinic, as saying: “Being connected to others socially is considered an important human need and is vital to one’s well-being.”

It isn’t just the office gossip we’ve been missing; it’s the kinship. It’s a sense of wellness that comes from being in a community working together toward a common goal.

So even if we may start heading back to the office soon, I’m sensing a renewed significance in professional connection. How do we maintain the networks we had — the relationships with coworkers, the rapport with a boss, the connection with clients — when it’s been a literal year since we’ve met face-to-face?

I had the same question. And this is what I’ve been doing about it:

Put It On the Calendar

Listen, the reality is if something isn’t on my calendar these days, it’s not gonna get done (and even then sometimes…).

Tell me I’m not alone?

It’s not even because we have so much to do; rather, we’re under higher and higher levels of collective and personal stress, with seemingly smaller mental and emotional capacities to hold it all.

Don’t feel bad if it’s been five months since you last caught up with an old coworker. Don’t give yourself grief if all you can offer is the bare minimum number of meetings every day. And don’t stress if you need a regular reminder just to maintain the important relationships in your life – I do!

We’re all tired. We’re all burnt out. Sometimes we have the mental energy to respond right away (or at all) and sometimes we just don’t.

My first tip is this: Schedule time on your calendar to stay connected. Maybe you kick off Monday mornings by sending a few emails to your old colleagues or get through your afternoon slump by checking in with a coworker on Teams chat.

It doesn’t matter what you do and it doesn’t matter how long it takes, so long as you have space on your calendar — and thus, in your life — to do it.

Reach Out Just Because

My favorite way to stay in touch with pretty much anyone is to send them a text right when they pop into my head.

Have you ever gotten a “Hey, just thinking of you!” text? They feel so good! And they’re so easy to send!

A great way to stay connected with your network is to reach out “just because” — not because you need a favor or have a question or are following up on a message you sent before.

Send a coworker an article you read that made you think of them or a resource you know will help with the project they’re working on. Share an event they might be interested in signing up for or simply share a funny meme from Instagram.

Give ‘Em an Out

Many moons ago, early into my career and my professional development and just my adulthood generally, I was reading an article about how to email “important” (read: busy) people, and the only tip I remember was to end with “NNTR” — or “No Need to Respond”.

My current feelings about who’s considered important in our American culture (and who’s not) aside, I really liked that piece of advice. Mostly, I liked the idea of someone giving me that out.

Yes, I am so, so grateful for the opportunity to stay connected to people on video when we couldn’t meet face-to-face, and sometimes I just need a break.

We’re all tired. We’re all burnt out. Sometimes we have the mental energy to respond right away (or at all) and sometimes we just don’t.

So, when reaching out to your network, consider offering them that same grace upfront. Let them know there’s no need to respond (if there’s not), and consider that the connection has still been made even if they take you up on that courtesy.

Offer Multiple Ways to Connect

I think I would be alright if I never had to get on another Zoom call again.

Yes, I am so, so grateful for the opportunity to stay connected to people on video when we couldn’t meet face-to-face, and sometimes I just need a break.

If you are reaching out and setting up time to talk with a professional connection, why not offer multiple ways to connect? Sure, Zoom is a great option — and also, there’s Voxer or text or Marco Polo or even sharing memes in your social media DMs, too?

Of course, certain conversations lend themselves better to certain modes of communication, so choose what works best for the relationship you have and the connection you’re making.

I’m just saying, I wouldn’t mind if someone just sent me a text instead of sending another email or setting up another Zoom call… maybe with “NNTR” at the end?

Proactively Participate

Staying connected to your network isn’t all about one-on-one contact either.

There are so many virtual communities — probably within your company, on social media platforms, throughout industry associations and trade groups and business masterminds and so on — that make it easier to stay in touch with like-minded people in your profession.

Perhaps part of your weekly network check-in includes proactively posting in that Slack channel or responding to a Teams poll or setting up a virtual happy hour on Zoom?

There are lots of opportunities to connect; often, we just need to be proactive about claiming them.


I know very few of us need one more thing to do these days, and — professionally important though it may be! — I was never that into traditional networking.

But there are former coworkers that I miss, colleagues I don’t want to lose touch with, a whole community of smart, passionate, incredible people I’ve met and had professional relationships with over the last decade.

And I want to maintain those relationships! I want to keep those people in my life, even if we can’t connect like we used to. Because one of the many things this last year has taught me is that connecting with people, my people, is what I’ll miss the most if all of a sudden it’s gone.

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