5 Ways Social Distancing Can Bring You Closer to Your Network

5 Ways Social Distancing Can Bring You Closer to Your Network

Yes, it’s another blog about the “new normal,” because let’s be clear, the remote connected workforce isn’t going anywhere. Major tech companies including Google and Twitter are promoting permanent Work from Home—and employers across the enterprise and SMB market are following in suit. And while the Zoom fatigue is real, there are some serious perks too.

First, more employees are no longer limiting their job search based on employer location and vice versa. You can work from virtually anywhere—whether that’s a cabin or Airbnb on the beach or making a big cross-country move to be closer to family or settle into a different kind of community.

And the work from home movement is creating real movement for professionals and rent prices. The cost of rent in San Francisco is sinking more every month after local workers leaving the office are eyeing roomier houses and lower rents in the suburbs or even out of state.

So yes, there are some serious upsides to our new virtual, connected way of life. In this blog, we explore how the distance is bringing professionals closer together and how you can make the new normal work better for your career.

1. Get coffee.

Whether you’re looking to enlist a mentor, pick someone’s brain on how they like it at their current employer, or you just want to catch up with a previous manager… now you can. Without worrying about the logistical nightmare of deciding which of the 20 Starbucks or local coffee shops between your offices is in the middle and how fast you can get back to the office, or making a long haul to another city or state for a quick in-person sit-down.

You might be looking forward to a virtual meetup with someone a few miles away or across the country. Now you can—there are no limits. And one thing hasn’t changed in the new normal. Friends buy friends coffee. Fact.

When you give someone a gift, most people want to help—it’s basic psychology and good marketing for your personal brand. So, stir up a good conversation, send a $5 Starbucks or local coffee shop gift card via email and follow up with a friendly ask for a Zoom coffee over the next week. Even if you’re just trying to catch up, this is a great plan to warm people up and a thoughtful way to reach out that they’ll remember.

2. Get on the phone.

I know, it sounds old school, but more people are answering calls these days because they’re getting less social interaction. Make sure you’re keeping the conversation going with your colleagues and connections. It’s nice to hear your voice and people hear you smile through the phone—your tone and rounded consonants change—and smiles are contagious.

Not only is it good for your career to stay top of mind with your network, doing these buddy checks to see how your colleagues and past team members are doing during these crazy times, how their families are, and if there’s any way you can help just makes everyone feel better.

It sounds stupid-simple, and it is, but it’s a way to make more meaningful connections with the professionals you respect who probably have more time on their hands to talk. If you feel awkward getting on the phone LinkedIn now let’s you leave a voicemail for connections to say hello.

3. Get colleagues together.

Bring your network together to help each other and make new connections while their normal social lives are on hold, (thank you, 2020). But seriously, with everyone getting more comfortable on FaceTime and Zoom, it’s easy to set up a happy hour or social with colleagues you’ve been wanting to introduce for years but couldn’t get in the same room. Well, now you can.

And bringing people together brings more value to your relationship with them on every level—personally and professionally. Introducing your connections who can give each other more professional mojo, also makes them more willing or likely to offer up introductions to their network.

Yes, maybe you can finally meet those coveted second and third connections who probably don’t respond to InMail. Now you can get in front of more people virtually than you probably could have a year ago. Because while virtual meetings aren’t a new thing, the virtual meetup mindset is.

4. Surprise them with a handwritten card.

If you have your colleagues’ mailing addresses, dropping a personal message just to say hi or that you’d like to catch up soon is a thoughtful way to let them know they’re on your mind. I recently found an unexpected card from a colleague in my mailbox and it brightened up my whole day. Within days we were talking face to face, you know, virtually.

It’s easy to write a card, but if you aren’t wanting to leave the house for stamps or stationary, you can always skip the envelope licking and use apps like Handwrytten to do the writing, stamping, and mailing for you. All you have to do is pull together your thoughts and import your contacts.

5. Go out of your way for connections who are hurting.

Let’s face it, these are strange times. 2020 has disrupted life in some way for every person you know. Some people have lost positions, some have even lost loved ones. And many of your colleagues are homeschooling while hopping on and off video conference calls all day long.

It’s time to go out of your way for your connections in a way that makes them happy—even if just for a moment—while forming a lasting, memorable connection. Because Maya Angelou was right, people won’t always remember everything you said or did, but they remember how you made them feel. Probably more than ever in disruptive times.

Depending on your connection and their situation, showing up for people can take some creativity during these chaotic times. If your friend or colleague has been laid off, introduce them to your favorite recruiter—(hopefully, me).

Or, if you have connections you think can help them break into a new company, introduce them via LinkedIn messaging, or take it a step further and set up a virtual meetup to make a face-to-face introduction.

Maybe you’re wanting to help a coworker who is an (understandingly) overwhelmed working parent. (I see you, Super Moms and Dads).

Whether you want to send them dinner via UberEats or Postmates to save them some time, or, give them something fun to do with their kids that will spread some cheer at the home office—the options are basically endless.

You can donate a Goat-to-meeting to help a nonprofit and save your colleague a stressful trip to the zoo—if it’s open—while Sweet Farms introduces them and their kids to hundreds of shelter animals for less than $100. You can set up a watch party with a family-friendly movie and a Firefox plugin for all your favorite working parents and their kiddos.

Showing you care and showing up in the most chaotic times brings you closer together with your network—friends, colleagues, and family—no matter how far apart you are.

Let’s get connected!

At Staffing Strong, we are here to help you find the perfect position—and we can coach you in landing your next gig with grace in our post-COVID19 job market. Drop us a line and submit your resume so we can help you get in front of some new, meaningful connections.

Meet the Author

Evelyn Vega is the Founder and President at Staffing Strong and the Past President of the Phoenix American Marketing Association. Since 1999, she’s made her career about supporting her clients in building meaningful careers and partnering with businesses in finding quality hires. In her free time, Evelyn sits on various advisory boards and enjoys practicing on her drum set!