One of the many challenges of COVID-19 and social distancing is staying connected with friends and colleagues. Recent research shows that professional networks have shrunk as much as 16% (more than 200 people) due to the global pandemic. Remote work and social distancing have made it less likely to meet a stranger or engage in small talk with a casual acquaintance. Without regular face-to-face contact, it is easy to feel disconnected from our friends and co-workers. When a professional network shrinks or disappears, it can be harder to find a job, make problem-solving more difficult, cause group-think within organizations, and increase feelings of isolation and stress. While social distancing restrictions are still in place, and as remote work becomes standard practice, how can we grow and maintain our social and professional networks?
- Pick up the phone. Video conferencing is an amazing tool, and there are great ways to use it, but sometimes an old-fashioned phone call is better suited to reconnecting with a colleague you haven’t seen in a while. Many people find it easier to communicate and are more comfortable taking a call than worrying about being camera-ready for a casual conversation.
- Be of service to others. Sometimes the best way to connect with others is to be of service. Share your skills with others. You could offer to teach someone how to use remote work tools more effectively or share industry-specific advice with others. Being of service could be as simple as leaving a great review to support someone’s business online or sharing and liking their social media posts to raise their profile.
- Use social media more effectively. You can use social media to reach out and thank a former boss or mentor for their role in your success, or just to let someone know you are thinking about them. Join a book club or recipe-sharing group on Facebook or Instagram to meet people with similar interests.
- Focus on professional growth. Consider enrolling in a leadership development program. Crestcom offers virtual interactive leadership development training alongside professionals from various industries. Participants can improve their professional skills while growing their network and learning from their peers.