As we continue to live virtually I like many others grapple with fears, concerns, and burdens during this uncertain time. I try to remind myself "this too shall pass" and thinking positively I wonder how our professional networks will be impacted by Covid19. I realize, maintaining and growing professional networks is not a primary concern right now but I believe it should be a consideration. For many, networking is how deals are struck, interviews are scheduled, and funding is secured. Typically they involve attending conferences, happy hours, galas, or participate in other such networking activities in our communities - that's not an option now. How do we adapt to maintain our professional network now and in the post Covid world? Here are five ideas to maintain professional connections during our current, virtual landscape.
LinkedIn is built for virtual networking, so update your profile, find a professional picture, and utilize this platform. Keep in mind that profile descriptions and posts are professional – it shouldn’t be the same content you post on Facebook. Check out this article from Golden Key Society geared towards grads and young professionals to learn the basics.
This might seem obvious but we can communicate with one another outside of a Zoom meeting. Using a good old fashion phone call has the same if not better outcome in conversations. Why? Well, with all the controversies around Zoom and “Zoombombing” the platform has created anxiety/concern for many. Additionally, the overuse of video meetings has already created “Zoom Fatigue” with many dreading another video meeting in their day.
If you have a professional’s personal phone number you may not want to text them out of the blue. Despite having their personal phone number, if you aren’t close with this connection it still may seem strange to text them. Establish a phone call or video chat first then ask at the end of the meeting if you can follow up via text.
Yes, even though I just said that video meetings are overused (they are) it is still an effective way to meet with another professional. To not burden the other person, I would suggest offering a quick chat over a drink. Be it a morning coffee chat, a lunchtime snack, or an evening cocktail. Keeping it to a short drink (30 minutes or less) is a great way to make this more appealing to the professional you seek to e-meet.
Get yourself enrolled as a mentee or mentor in an e-mentoring program. Mentoring is not just a junior-senior relationship. Peer mentoring is shown to be effective through the act of listening, sharing experiences, challenging assumptions, being a sounding boarding, and more. Listen to one person’s view on the power of mentoring. Are you already an unintentional mentor?
Carolyn Mazzella, MPA, CRA
YNPN PGH Board Member