If there is one thing that this virus has taught me, it’s that we need each other now more than ever. Jobs are shutting down in so many different venues. Careers are shifting along with priorities. People are having to home school their children instead of their children learning in actual schools. We are all learning to adapt to new curves and while they may be pretty steep in some areas, one thing never changes. We need to keep networking.
Networking and communication go hand in hand. I got an email the other day that my resume needed to be updated on Indeed.com. So I went on there and updated it, and within about two hours, I had a few people networking with me. I’m not looking for a new job at the moment but it’s nice to know that there are things, both personally and professionally that are changing in my life. Even though I can’t get to the gym to work out, it’s been a breath of fresh air to be able to work out without the scrutiny of other looks at how my weight my be used against me. I’m already self conscious enough about it, but the fact that others are dealing with similar issues, allows me to see that there is a network of folks who are letting me know that my struggles are not alone. In this era of social distancing, the network of people who are in communication are a lifeline of sorts.
For those of us who write, we are able to express ourselves and our emotions through our words. Others may do it through art, music, dance, poetry, sports, or any other venue that their skill set allows them to shine. Each person has their own network. Many times, those networks are extended to people that others may have in common. The point is that we don’t need to shut doors or opportunities to grow. Just because you don’t know of an opportunity, doesn’t mean that one doesn’t exists. It just means that you may not be aware of what might be an incredible fit.
I used to love to go the park. Now that the park and other venues have been forbidden, I’ve had to adjust to walking up and down my street. Many times, it isn’t my favorite thing to do. For one thing, I walk in a rural neighborhood and cars love to fly by on the street, ignoring the speed limit. I don’t exactly feel like becoming a spot on the road. What was once a safe place to ride my bike has become target practice with cars. I think that’s one of the reasons I miss the gym. Plus I also miss the encouragement I got from others when I wanted to work out.
LinkedIn is one of my favorite networking platforms. There’s two reasons for this. One, it allows you to join other groups in a professional setting. You can read about many of the latest blogs and articles that people bring to light. Subject matter is always changing. Networks are always growing and the best part is that everyone is there to help promote themselves. I don’t usually see deplorable talk on that platform. What I have found is helpful information that is challenging me to grow and expand on my brand and my ability to adapt to the changing times.
There was once upon a time where I didn’t want anything to do with social media. The most I would do with it was to go on MySpace but as time went on, so did the need to grow and expand my network. I went back to college not once but twice during that time-frame. I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree and certifications in social media. I established long enduring friendships that haven’t diminished over the years and been perpetually grateful for each and every one of them. Some of them have grown over the years and some have dwindled a bit. But I have tried to leave the door ajar just in case I need those networks. You never want to burn bridges if you can help it.
I’ve watched as our world has changed. The role of the community as a whole has changed too. Churches and other organizations are reaching out to people regardless of whether they are members or not. They are networking within their communities to remind them of the goodness of people and that faith and love go a long way to healing broken people. Our jobs are just that- they are jobs. At the end of the day, the job doesn’t define who we are. When we let the label of our occupation define who we are as human beings, then we are lost to those labels. Our occupations may say one thing, but how we treat each other and network with one another defines something else altogether. To me it defines a unity of people. We are so blessed to work together. We have a network of folks who are constantly helping out in ways we don’t always understand.
I’ve had friends call me up and tell me about job opportunities. Sometimes I jump on those opportunities and there’s been many times where I’ve been leery to seek those opportunities out. I’ve often heard that if something sounds too good to be true, it often is. This premise has served me both wisely and unwisely in different realms. Networking is just a part of how we progress and it’s a huge part. Most of the people I know who have advanced in their careers, were able to advance because of who they knew.
When I turn on the news, I am amazed at how the media can portray things in both a positive and negative light. But when I see an interview with someone I know and how that person or group is being affected, it makes me stop and think. In many ways, they are using their interview as a way to network and branch out. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen something happen after a person was interviewed. The fifteen minutes of fame doesn’t always apply. What it does do is remind us that we are all a part of something bigger. I used to think that “It’s a Small World After All” was just a cute song. In reality, it really is a small world. Some people are able to sit in their offices looking down on everyone else. But did you ever stop to think that for some of them, they may have it all with money and power, but are they really complete? For some, the answer is yes. They give as good as they get. For others, no. They may appear to have it all. But even in their network of folks, they have some of the same struggles that many of us do.
So today, I challenge you to step out of your box. If you lost your job, not only look for something else, but look for something that will challenge you out of your comfort zone. Step up not back. Don’t just side step. Get to know a new network of folks. Be open to opportunity and don’t sell yourself short. There’s enough people in the world who will do that for you. It’s good to be afraid. Use that to give you the strength you need in order to conquer your fears.
Communicate with people to let them know what you want. Once you put it out in the universe, you have a higher chance of it becoming a reality. We are held accountable for what we say and do. We may not always reach our goals but if we aren’t willing to connect to others and open ourselves up, then how much are we willing to adapt to the changes the world is presenting us with? Use this time to reshape your destiny. After all, you are the best communicator for yourself. Now it’s just a matter of allowing others to use you in their network as well. You’ve got this. After all, networking starts with you. Go for it.