By Valerie L. Hawes, Organizational Learning & Development Lead
Everyone may not be considered a “social butterfly.” And those of us that are, may be having a very hard time with quarantining and practicing social distancing, with covered faces. At first, it was incredibly challenging for me to adjust to this “new norm” that we are currently experiencing. In fact, I bet there are many (like myself) who have experienced some level of “withdrawls” from lack of socialization throughout this period. Initially, there were many thoughts and questions running through my mind. I asked myself…
“How long will this last?”
“When will I see my friends, coworkers, and extended family members again?“
“There’s nowhere to go!”
“Nothing is open!”
“I’m going to lose it!” (The verdict is still out on that one.)
Although trying to stay connected can be difficult, it is not impossible. It can be done, and it can be done effectively.
I’m here to tell you about Five of the best places for networking during a pandemic.
Social Media. Social media is a great avenue to stay connected with everyone around the world. There are so many platforms to choose from like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, even YouTube, and LinkedIn. There are so many more to name but these are my personal favorites. All of these social media sites are great for finding jobs as well. I, especially, love Linkedin for job seeking purposes. LinkedIn offers the opportunity to research companies; explore job postings, participate in training; while also meeting liked-minded professionals from around the world. You can message recruiters directly to share and discuss current and future career development opportunities.
Family and Friends. Some people have trouble meeting others and developing new friendships. I understand that it may be frustrating at times when forced into new and uncomfortable spaces. But as they say, “practice makes perfect!l” So, start connecting and reconnecting with your current circle of friends and family. They represent a safe space and a circle of support for you. Be sure to share your aspirations, hobbies and even employment goals because you’d be as to who your friends and family may know that can help you along the way. Plan regularly scheduled Zoom meetings with friends and family. It will be good practice and will hopefully provide the connection necessary for a happy, healthy existence which is necessary for the soul.
Virtual Resource Fairs and Job Fairs. These places are great ways to meet new people; look for jobs; while possibly meeting new colleagues and friends along the way. Virtual Resource Fairs provide individuals access to multiple organizations to learn more about their services and solutions to help address their personal needs. Virtual Job Fairs are online versions of a traditional job fairs. This is an opportunity for employers and job seekers to meet and discuss current employment opportunities. In fact, you may even snag an interview right on-the-spot!
While Standing In Line Anywhere. Did you know that sometimes networking opportunities can happen spontaneously? You may find yourself standing in line for an extended period of time at the Grocery Store, BMV, Pharmacy, Doctor’s Office or even while waiting in the Unemployment Line. If so, take advantage of this opportunity and make good use of your time. Introduce yourself to the person standing next to you. This is something that may even happen organically. You never know who may be standing right next to you.