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  • Paul Schrage

It's a great time to network

I was watching PBS NewsHour, as I usually do when making dinner. Of course, Coronavirus was dominating the news. A segment aired in which an employment expert discussed the difficulty of looking for a job without the ability to network because of social distancing. I started thinking about my own video chats over the last several weeks. It’s not a bad time to network. In fact, in some ways it’s a great time to network.

It seems that too often we network when we need something. We need more gigs or a job, so we network. However, this is a shortsighted use of networking. If we understand networking to be “the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business” (credit to Merriam-Webster), it’s a great time to network. Cultivating productive relationships doesn’t happen overnight. Right now people are feeling isolated, bored, lonely, or just in need of a change of pace. Invite people, near and far, for virtual coffee. Connect with them, without agenda or goal. Listen to their story, and tell them your story. Genuinely cultivate relationships.

Networking won’t alleviate the immediate pain of the Covid19 pandemic. My heart goes out to all who are hurting during this time. But if you have some time and energy, I highly encourage you to network, in the truest sense of the word. Reach out to people who you respect and admire. Ask if there is anything you can do for them. If somebody reaches out to you, make the time for them. The quality of your relationships is one of the most important currencies you can carry in this world, and you can’t earn it quickly.

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