If you have read my last post about the lessons that I learned from the coronavirus pandemic, you would know how this crisis has impacted me and most of us in more ways than one. If you haven’t, I would recommend reading that before continuing with this article.
Today, I want to refrain from talking about a career as if nothing has changed whereas the fact is that we seem to be on the precipice of a huge change. Change in the world, in the way we conduct ourselves socially, and the way we live our lives in general. This includes our professional lives too. More than two months of isolation made many of us realize a lot of things about ourselves and the world that we didn’t have time to think of before. In this article, I will be talking about the first realization that hit me – the importance of human connections.
Technology doesn’t connect people – it’s simply a tool
Pretty basic, isn’t it? Who doesn’t know that technology can only offer tools for communication? But, were we living our lives giving our human connections the importance they deserved. I am talking about professional connections here.
Here is an example from the pre-pandemic era: Imagine reaching home after a long day at work, sitting with a cup of tea/coffee, and browsing through Linkedin. You come across a post from an ex-colleague going through a job loss. What would you feel? You might drop a line asking him to keep trying and not lose hope but would soon forget about the post.
Most of us wouldn’t go back and drop a line to check if he got a job or is still looking. I am not talking about doing something for him but merely being human! What if you were to extend that hand to reach out to him when his chips were down? Wouldn’t you make a strong connection with him? Today, we have a lot of options to get in touch with people but no time to build connections.
The master key to a successful career – human connections
Remember the old adage:
People don’t remember what you said or did – they remember how you made them feel!
And, how you make people feel depends on the amount of time and effort you are willing to invest in understanding the person and creating a genuine connection. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Network like you really mean it
Social media platforms have made networking and connecting with people, a game of numbers. Today, someone with 3000 followers is considered more popular and able than someone with 300 followers. We are all guilty of trying to merely appear networked than actually make the effort to network and connect with people.
Think about the offline world for a minute. You are on a coffee break and happen to meet someone working in a different department. You start talking and try to understand each other’s roles in the organization. Over time, you keep running into each other and forge a bond – in other words; you connect. This is possible because there is a genuine effort to know the person and not a tally mark to be ticked off somewhere.
Hence, when you network and build connections online – mean it. Spend time to understand each person who you follow or who follows you. Interact, communicate, and build a bond.
Leverage your past connections to find new ones
If you have a strong Tier-I of connections, then finding new contact that can be beneficial for your career will not be difficult. Reach out. Tell people that you are expanding your network and are genuinely interested in connecting with them. Research the person you are planning to connect with and tell him/her how this connection can be mutually beneficial. If you follow this process, then soon you will have an efficient network of people who can help each other in their careers.
Participate in discussions
If a professional contact shares a post that you like, say something about it. Merely hitting the like button is lazy. Again, imagine a personal interaction with this person. What if every time you said something sensible, the other person was to simply give you a thumbs-up? You won’t feel acknowledged, would you? Similarly, on social media platforms, don’t just hit the like button, post a comment too. If you find a post that has an ongoing discussion that you can contribute to, join it. Technology has given us a lot of options to speak our minds and share our views. However, we choose to remain silent at places where we should speak and keep yelling on topics that are irrelevant. Being an active participant on social media can help you find like-minded people and develop a strong presence.
Maintain your connections
Connecting with someone is an ongoing process and not a one-time activity. We all need to make a constant effort to maintain our connections – be it personal or professional. Dedicate some time to remain aware of all the major events in the lives of people you are connected with. Most platforms offer notification services to remind you of such events. Don’t swipe them away. Take a minute and congratulate them if it is an achievement or drop a line if the news is bad. The idea is to keep reminding the person of your connection – making him/her feel that you still remember them. If possible, pick up the phone and call them once in a while.
I don’t have to tell you about the benefits of having a strong network. However, don’t judge strength by number. Instead, look at the quality of the network and the connection you share with each of them to assess its efficacy.
During the lockdown, I made efforts to revisit my network and handpick the ones that I wanted to connect with while removing those who were merely making the number look huge. I also started making efforts to ‘connect’ with them and am hoping to see some positive results soon. Next time, I will talk about how you can be proactive rather than reactive in difficult situations. Until then, keep networking and building human connections!
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