The world’s been flipped upside down, and in-person interactions are rarer than in years past. Serendipitous conversations over coffee are gone. Sharing interests with a coworker on the elevator as you leave the office now exists as a fond memory. Touting your excitement about a recent win to your desk neighbor, poof.
These small interactions were how we used to get to know people. They were a way to subtly learn what strengths people had, what made them tick, what they were passionate about, and how they liked to work. By simply being present, you could learn a lot about your peers, and they could learn a lot about you.
In this new, remote world, we’re locked into 30-minute time slots of manufactured interactions with an agenda and clear outputs. These meetings are good for productivity, but terrible for building relationships. As a result, showcasing your unique strengths to stand out among your peers without completely burning yourself out chasing performance metrics has become extraordinarily challenging.
Here’s what I’ve noticed sets people apart in this new remote world: over-communicating in everything you do. In a surprising number of cases, this strategy will outdo the “high performer.”
5 Tips for Remote Work Career Growth
- Talk a lot in chats.
- Drop lots of comments in collaboration tools.
- Teach internally by giving presentations.
- Teach externally by writing and speaking.
- Attend conferences and community events.
Talk a Lot in Chats
A lot of career growth is based on “marketing yourself,” which entails making sure people know who you are and what you’re about. Chatting will put your name directly in front of your co-workers and keep you in their minds. When they associate your name with things you’re interested in, they’ll be more likely to go to you whenever they have questions about those topics. But to do that, you need to expose people to your personality and interests.
Create or jump into a few Slack or Teams channels that are organized around a professional community within your company, like #backend-engineering, #productivity, #tech-tricks, or #strategy-help. Send a quick direct message saying hello to the new folks. Foster that community, break down silos, help people out, and ask questions, even if they’re simple, basic, or unusual. Stoke more conversation among your peers.
Do the same for non-professional communities like #golf, #tech-news, #outdoor-adventures, #videogames, or whatever you’re into. Have conversations about things you’re interested in, ask about things that are new to you, and get people talking.
The more you engage, the more comfortable people will be when they interact with you. And that comfort makes you more enticing as a candidate for leadership and strategy roles.
Drop Lots of Comments in Collaboration Tools
Do you use tools like Github, InVision, Google Docs, Notion, Jira, or any other software that has the ability to leave a comment?
You should be using that feature extremely liberally.
Commend someone for good work. Ask questions about things that you don’t understand. And don’t be shy about looking foolish: People often develop a stronger attachment to you when they are given the opportunity to teach you something. Tag your teammates when you spot something that they might be interested in. Correct mistakes, call out good ideas, or identify areas of opportunity. Or just drop something simple like, “Oh, this is cool!”
Leaving lots of comments offers a ton of benefits. First of all, just like chats, having your name show up in a lot of places is great self-marketing. Additionally, your comments get sent to anyone watching the document, and they’ll learn from your interaction with others too. Comments help everyone learn together. By engaging often, you create more collaborative learning opportunities for the entire team.
Teach Internally by Giving Presentations
Why learn in a silo? There’s a great chance that others in your company can benefit from learning your skills, or even just gaining empathy for what you do.
Talk about a tool you use, or a new method of doing something. Lead a remote workshop. Explain how projects succeeded, and openly share failures. Counterintuitively, talking about failed projects is an incredibly powerful way to gain support. Analyze how another team did a great job from your perspective. Build up a culture of sharing knowledge.
The greatest leaders are the ones who aren’t afraid to cultivate teammates who are stronger than themselves. My personal goal is to teach everyone on my team exactly how to do everything I do and enable them to make the same types of decisions. This empowers teammates to jump into more challenging roles, comfortably step in when I need a hand, and ultimately support my position when we identify an issue. The blunt reality is that I’m not that smart, and I need a lot of help to do the things that I do on a daily basis.
If you can level up the people around you, they’re more likely to look to you as a natural leader, even if you make mistakes along the way.
Teach Externally by Writing and Speaking
In the same vein, the community at large benefits greatly when you share your successes and failures, and people come to view you as a source of knowledge.
Don’t try to be the ultimate authority with all the answers on a topic. Break things down into bite-size chunks. Think about whether you’d actually want to read or listen to this content if a stranger was presenting it. If not, how can you repackage the information? If you can’t figure this out on your own, bring in a friend or coworker to help you decide how to format things.
This strategy also has the benefit of letting you exercise your information-presenting muscles, which has incredible, positive impacts in all aspects of your life, not just your career.
Ultimately, you want to be a teacher to your community of peers. Sometimes, this will lead to new job prospects, or inbound business, or just a couple new Twitter followers. But most importantly, it shows other people what you care about, and they’re more likely to come to you in the future.
Attend Conferences and Community Events
Get yourself out there! Do stuff!
Meet people who share your interests, whether that’s professional or personal. Make friends, get to know people, expose yourself to new personalities. When others know you and can vouch for or present opportunities to you, your life becomes happier and less stressful. You’ll find support from places and people that you never would expect, and this will help you enter into challenging situations with confidence.
When you meet new people and communities, you get to see a real mirror into just how much you’ve accomplished. It’s exciting, and the positive impact spans your entire life.
The Remote World Doesn’t Have to Be Lonely
When people can’t passively see you to learn who you are, you must actively make yourself visible. In doing so, you’re going to find that both your professional and personal life simply become more fun and exciting.
Be a support system for others beyond just the duties of your job. Help someone with a problem. Share some cool articles to learn from. Help your coworker move apartments. Call up a buddy for a game of Mario Kart, even if you’re terrible at Mario Kart. It’s going to be fun, you’re going to build a relationship, and you’re going to be someone they look to in the future.
We haven’t lost all of our humanity in the remote world. Being a standout isn’t just about crushing the most tickets or selling the most widgets or working late into the night. It’s still mostly about being a good person and helping others along the way.
At Method, our teams care deeply about everyone’s growth, whether you are a teammate or a client. If you’re interested in learning how we use this culture to design and build beautiful digital products, come check us out, or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter!