What do we crave the minute we are told we can’t have it? Human connection, of course. Even those of us who are introverts miss getting out with friends, stopping by the neighbor’s house so our dogs can say hello and meeting colleagues for lunch to catch up.
So exactly how do we maintain the connections we are going to need when it is time to go back to work and we have no job? Now is not the time to be hounding friends and colleagues about job opportunities in their company. Actually, there is never a good time for that. But you get my drift. Right now, everyone is reeling from the impact of COVID-19 and few have the mental bandwidth to extend themselves beyond their immediate circle.
So, what can you do?
Stay visible, in a good way. One of the keys to successful networking is to give first. Make it a point to write two or three short, personal emails to friends, colleagues and business associates every day.
Focus on them, ask about their needs, challenges or successes as they juggle work and family in the confines of home. Sometimes the best emails are the ones that don’t require a response, they just leave a warm feeling in the receiver’s heart.
Handwrite a note or send a “thinking about you” greeting card through the US mail. If you are like me, the only time I can look forward to an actual letter is on the days leading up to my birthday or major holiday. Can you remember the last time you received a letter or unexpected card in the mail instead of the usual bills and junk mail? I’ll bet your colleagues and clients can’t either.
Another take on this idea is to create your own card using a site like sendoutcards.com, snapshotphoto.com or snapfish.com. Some sites let you choose and customized their cards and upload your own photos to create personalized greeting and post cards.
Send an e-card to remind folks you are thinking of them. While not quite as personal as a paper greeting card, it can be a good substitute for letting folks know they are in your thoughts. The e-card companies make it easy for the receiver to acknowledge the card without effort. This way those in your network get an unexpected lift in their day without feeling guilty about not responding.
There are other ways to acknowledge and stay in touch with your network. For example, you could write a recommendation on LinkedIn. I’m guessing that you may have a little extra time on your hands and can find a least a few people in your network deserving of praise. Surprise them with a few heartfelt sentences about your experience working with them as a vendor, client or coworker.
Make an introduction. Are there people in your network who would benefit from knowing each other? Connect them via email, telephone or Zoom conference.
Host a Zoom happy hour or coffee break. It can be a short 15-minute check-in or something longer. Everyone can have their beverage of choice, catch up on the news and share their moments of inspiration (or desperation).
These are just a few of the myriad ways that we can deepen relationships and maintain that human touch we all crave during challenging times.
Mary Jeanne Vincent, career expert and strategist, has a private coaching practice and guides clients nationally. She may be reached at 831-657-9151, 831-917-4997, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.careercoachmonterey.com
© 2020 Mary Jeanne Vincent. All rights reserved.