Networking has changed in the wake of the pandemic. Experts detailed where people are now making new connections. – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

Networking has changed in the wake of the pandemic. Experts detailed where people are now making new connections.

Gen Z isn’t scared to ask about work-life balance at work.

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The pandemic altered many aspects of jobs as well as careers. And the changes in networking closely mirror how workplace trends have evolved in recent years.

“We’re probably better than 50% back to normal, but probably not as much as 75% back to normal,” Scott Fletcher, cofounder of executive search firm Intersection Growth Partners, told me about the volume of networking he’s seen.

His line of work depends on networking, and he’s noticed a decline in touch points across the board, including conference attendance and one-on-one meetups.

Multiple experts told me the way we network has changed due to the pandemic and discussed the modifications they’ve witnessed and experienced.

Social media = networking

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Cheryl Campanaro, an area director at staffing firm Adecco, told me people are finding commonality in a virtual world, which can then pivot into an in-person collaboration.

“We’re pinging people on LinkedIn. We’re getting friend requests on Facebook, engaging in tweets, liking pictures on Instagram, viewing videos on TikTok — believe it or not, all of that is networking,” Campanaro said.

Plus, the normalization of using online platforms has streamlined and focused the networking process. Selva Param, a partner at executive search and leadership consultancy firm Stanton Chase, told me people are now more responsive to cold DMs.

“Ever since people moved into hybrid or remote because of the pandemic, more people are actually responsive towards direct messages,” Param said. “But now I can see more than 50% or 70% of people actually respond.”

Professional and personal lines are blurry

Shonna Waters, a vice president at leadership coaching platform BetterUp, told me more conferences are offering childcare.

Waters was recently talking with a parent about how frequently schools schedule events during work hours. But she emphasized how day-to-day interactions can also be a chance to network, like chatting with neighbors or riding in Ubers.

“You’ve got to kind of look for opportunities to get two-for-ones often in terms of how to get your objectives met, because there’s just not necessarily a ton of discretionary hours to work with,” Waters told me.

Many years ago, Waters co-founded a running group. Training together and attending social activities after runs was the perfect opportunity to talk about what was going on in their lives and how they could help each other.

Plus, a lower-cost sport like running highlights how activity-based networking (not just going to a bar or coffee shop) has evolved beyond the golf course. Pickleball, hiking, and other pastimes are well-suited for modern-day networking needs.

People want to network in person

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After so much remote work — and lingering Zoom fatigue — people are keen for in-person interactions.

“With very few exceptions, people seem to be interested in getting together face-to-face,” Fletcher, who works in the crypto and fintech space, told me.

Param often asks prospective clients to meet and connect to chat about industry trends. Before the pandemic, people would ask what the purpose of the meetings was.

But now, they’re agreeing to meet up and having pretty robust but casual chats — most of the meetings have nothing to do with recruitment anymore, Param told me. People are discussing their passions and interests and how they want to impact the world.

“I think at the end of the day, we all are human,” Param said. “We like human touch; we like to meet people.”

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