To say the last year took some adapting would be an understatement. We went from speaking to people in person and hanging out in crowds to having a wine and paint session on ZOOM just to connect with our friends again. With the lack of in person communication, digital networking has never been more important. I think it is safe to say that networking via ZOOM is not the same as going to your favorite food joint and chatting it up with some people over drinks. Here are some tips to keep that interpersonal communication alive in a virtual environment:
Move Texting to Video Chat Platforms
Not to say that texting was never the way to communicate before COVID hit, but we had the opportunity to hang out at the bar with friends to bond over wine before we went into a lockdown. With that taken out, we have been forced to move to FaceTime or video chats on ZOOM and Messenger. Going into quarantine made it normal for us to just shoot a text to someone instead of jumping on FaceTime. Needing to see our friends faces became more and more important as the lockdown and quarantine went on. Some went into a COVID depression and just stopped talking to anyone except via text, and didn’t want to video chat with anyone. Seeing people face to face is important to remain in contact and not feel so alone, especially for single pringles who live solo.
Use Social Media
I personally have a love/hate relationship with social media. I could live without some of my apps. Not only that, but I have found that social media can actually help with connections that I would have had in person if we were not social distancing. Being part of an alumni association from my community college days and being the Alumni Affairs officer has really allowed me to see the positive side to social media. Moving marketing and networking to an online platform was most definitely a challenge, but being able to communicate on Facebook and Instagram what is going on with our charter has been a blessing in disguise, as much as it has been a pain in the behind. One of the best things about being in person was being able to develop those interpersonal relationships with people and putting names to faces. Social media has filled that gap for the most part with being able to interact with people all over the state via that online platform. I have also found that keeping up with my friends and family has been a nice way to fill the void of not being able to see them every day. So, as much as social media can be frustrating, it has really been useful in this virtual environment.
Create Events on Video Chat Platforms
I never thought I would be able to say that I participated in a game night with ten people while being home alone. I didn’t think that it was possible to host a convention over ZOOM. Who knew that we could host an entire workshop on a video chat platform? I was lucky enough to be a part of events like this. I attended a convention with over one hundred people last fall, all from the comfort of my home. It was quite the interesting experience. And one that really took me by surprise was being able to attend JackBox Game Nights for my alumni charter. We just got on ZOOM, shared a screen and played on our phones until 3 in the morning while talking about our lives. Recently, I attended a Transfer Tuesday workshop hosted by one of my mentors, and was able to connect with students who are interested in transferring to ASU. I also sat in and listened to some of what the reps had to say from each of these universities that were present. These are experiences that I wouldn’t have been able to have if it weren’t for COVID forcing us to all go virtual. Being able to network with people all over the state of Arizona like this was quite the learning experience.
Just because everything was moved online doesn’t mean that we should lose the chance to network. In fact, we should take these skills that we have learned from being virtual, and apply them to our lives when we go back to being in person. Being away from people and unable to do the things we have been equipped to do for many years has taught me (and I’m sure others) the importance of being able to see people and do simple things together. I would hope that the connections we have made through online platforms would carry over to in-person interactions. That is the point of networking, right?