SALT LAKE CITY — Despite the restrictions on events and large group gatherings over the last two and a half months, the importance of building relationships and networking continues to grow.
Studies show that a lack of social relationships can have short- and long-term effects on our physical and mental health. And a strong network is important for anyone who wants to advance their career or improve business opportunities, which is particularly important with unemployment rates rising.
Networking is not about collecting contacts; it’s about creating relationships. But networking as we have known it has shifted.
Thankfully, businesses and communities are beginning to open up again and we will see more in-person events begin to happen. However, social distancing and limited activities remain part of our new normal — at least for the foreseeable summer months.
Here are four tips to continue to build a strong network, even if you aren’t meeting new people face to face.
1. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated
A larger percentage of our interactions are online, and now is the perfect time to update your social media profiles, particularly LinkedIn.
Your LinkedIn profile is the foundation to your personal brand and has many features that allow you to showcase your skills, job objectives, and highlight professional achievements. Work to build your network to the first degree and don’t be afraid to ask for an introduction.
2. Explore different social media platforms and unique ways to use them
Digital devices have helped us connect face to face in an isolated world. We have several different apps to choose from to help us stay connected.
Marco Polo is a mobile app that hosts video messages. It’s been dubbed a “video walkie-talkie” and allows you to send quick video messages privately to your friends and family and respond back to them.
"I have a Marco Polo group, and we talk quite a bit throughout the day," explained Kaysville resident Maurie Tarbox. "It has helped me feel connected.
"I also have a standing Thursday Zoom lunch with four very dear friends," Tarbox added.
Almost overnight, Zoom became a household name. But the video conferencing platform isn’t just for conference calls. People like Tarbox are using it for online lunches, book clubs and date night.
For the last eight weeks, Logan residents Josh and Cara Barnett have been using Zoom to meet up with five other couples for a group date night.
"Each week, a different couple took turns planning a game-night activity," Josh Barnett explained. "It gave us something to look forward to every Friday night. Plus, couples that play together stay together."
3. Join Facebook groups and meet new people
"Facebook groups are fantastic places to meet others with similar business and personal interests," explained Taralyn Parker, a blogger and social media manager. "I love the sense of community I have found."
Parker has found personal success too. During Coronavirus isolation, Parker met a new colleague in one of the Facebook groups she belongs to and, together, they created the "21 Day Family Connection Experiment: a family history project."
"We worked together and there have been no in-person meetings," Parker said. "Everything has been done over Zoom, phone calls and social media."
4. Display deliberate warmth and reach out the old-fashioned way
Get back to basics — pick up the phone or write a letter. If you want to reconnect or improve a relationship, break out the stationary and send a card. Nothing is as personal as a hand-written letter or a phone call, especially when most of us just text.
Maya Angelou once said, "I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."