When I first started working from home full time in March, I found the experience a welcome disruption to my routine. I enjoyed sleeping in later and dressing casually. Every day was dress-down Friday. My husband and high-school-age son were working and learning from home too. It was All in the Family all the time.
Fast forward almost six months. We’re still working and learning from home. I’m in the dining room, my husband, in the basement, and our son is in the guest bedroom. Technology may make it possible to telecommute but I miss the real-life interactions with my colleagues and peers.
We may not be able to return to the office just yet, but we can still nurture our networks.
Opportunities for networking in person during COVID times
Get out and meet up with colleagues
This week, I met up with colleagues I worked with years ago. We’ve kept in touch with emails, texts and more than a few dinners but, I hadn’t seen them since last year! We chose a park with picnic tables and we each brought a chair and our own lunch so we could socially distance. It was energizing for all of us to get out of the house, talk about work and family, and whatever else came up.
Next week, I’m brown-bagging it with colleagues who I have been working with online. I’m eager for updates about their lives outside of work and how their staycations went.
Speak to strangers
It sounds scary, but it’s not. Start with a place where you’re likely to meet like-minded people, such as at leisure, social or sporting events. A friend enjoys attending her son’s baseball games and inevitably strikes up conversations with other parents about the team and the game. But they also end up talking about home renos, past holidays, and yes, work.
My friend even scored a job interview through a contact she made at the baseball games. Another friend found a cabinetmaker for his kitchen reno among the players in his Oldtimers’ hockey league.
Speak to your neighbours
It was by chatting with a neighbour several years ago that I learned he worked for an international beverage company that also makes soft drinks. He became my go-to guy to supply soft drinks at our annual street party. Make a point to stop and chat with neighbours when you walk your dog, or better yet, ask a neighbour if you can borrow their dog when you go for a walk.
I once worked at a media station where a new assistant was hired after she chatted with her new neighbour about how her job search was going. The recent grad’s neighbour turned out to be the station’s news director who was looking to fill a production-assistant spot.
Meeting up with friends, peers and colleagues in person is not only healthy, but it’s also enjoyable and stimulating.