diverse woman working from home on sofaDave Chaplin is CEO and founder of online contracting authority ContractorCalculator and IR35 Shield.

Set up some twenty years ago, the site provides free expert advice and information to over 200,000 freelancers and contractors each month. Dave is a prolific voice and campaigner on behalf of the UK’s flexible workforce and has more than 26,500 followers on LinkedIn. Here he shares his advice on how he has used remote networking to build his business and outlines what has worked well.

Social media is about a sharing of ideas and should not be thought of solely as a driver for selling and some sort of free advertising platform. Virtual networking is not altogether different from actual networking. In fact, if you simply don’t have the time, or are living and working in lockdown under Covid-19, building your network online is important to feel connected and engaged, surrounding yourself with ‘virtual’ people where you all try to help each other. It is important to be authentic, so you build a rapport with those you are connected with.

Taking part in webinars or podcasts sharing your expertise also works to connect with audiences interested in your subject matter and allows you to interact with audiences live on panel discussions.

What would be your 3 – 5 top pieces of advice for how to network remotely?

  1. Regularly write and share interesting content that people will want to read.  Once you have connected with people and built up a network, people may want to often hear what you have to say. Then you can build up a conversation and debate on pertinent issues.
  2. Share and like other people’s content if it is good. Networking is all about relationships and it is important to build a rapport with your followers and respect and share their views too.
  3. Stick to subjects you know about and your niche area, rather than blindly trying to follow the latest news trends.
  4. Don’t hijack other people’s posts by posting promotional links, or blatantly promoting your own services and products. That’s poor form.
  5. Block people who are rude/aggressive – general rule – would you throw them out of your dinner party if they spoke like that? There are some downsides to remote networking and you don’t need to tolerate bad behaviour.  And, don’t worry too much about agreeing to connections. You can always disconnect with people.
  6. Don’t focus on the statistics. You never really know how things will go. I spent 10 minutes once on a Sunday just sharing a story about how I got started in computers and thanking my Dad for buying me a Commodore 64. For some reason it went viral and remains the most viewed post I ever wrote.

About the author

Dave Chaplin is CEO of contracting authority ContractorCalculator and  IR35 Shield, providing free expert advice and information to freelancers and contractors.


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