For most of the past two and a half months in person networking hasn’t existed. It remains of the utmost importance for all of us, whether we are lucky enough to be able to work or are unemployed. Many people I speak with have not networked or conducted business development activities since offices closed and stay at home orders went into effect. Doing nothing is harmful in the long run and despite businesses now being allowed to open in most states, normal networking and business development activities will take longer to become the norm again.
Most of my networking involves meeting people for coffee, lunch or drinks. This hasn’t happened since the first week in March. In Arizona, coffee shops and restaurants are allowed to be open, but will the people I want to meet with be ready to go back yet? I’m not sure I am ready to go back yet. So we each need to determine for ourselves what we are comfortable with and how to deal with people whose comfort levels are different than ours.
The answers depend on you. You may be ready to dine out. If you are, you will have to navigate setting up meetings carefully and responding positively when others aren’t willing to meet in person. You likely don’t want to do yet another Zoom meeting, but that may be the only way to get an audience with some people. If that is where they are, you need to accept that. We each get to choose how we feel about the current state of social distancing and the risks we are or aren’t willing to take. We all need to be respectful and take that meeting you want in whatever form you and the other person can agree on.
Of course, with people you know, there are other options to connect. Yes, I mean picking up the phone, emailing, texting, etc. The manner of communication depends on your relationship with the other person. Making time each day to maintain connections is important. It is a form of investing in yourself.
You need to do the same things you always should be doing. These include making lists of people you know and want to connect with, as well as people you want to meet. Then take the time to contact those you know or finding someone who can connect you to those you want to know. Whether to have those willing to connect you do so now or in the future is up to you, but putting the wheels in motion will make it happen sooner than later either way as the world opens up again.
We all need to take action now for our futures. What are your plans?