Last March, I launched #Connect4Women, an initiative designed to build and strengthen female networks across industries. The idea was simple (connecting four women per weekday be sending two emails) and it was a huge success. Five hundred women came together, sparking partnerships, friendships and new ideas.
As I sent around an email to participate in this year’s #Connect4Women a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea what was coming around the bend: COVID-19. Our world has changed drastically in such a short time. As we collectively take precautions to try to slow the outbreak of Coronavirus, most people in my industry have been working from home for a week or two, schools are closing across the country, and people feel isolated and scared.
In this environment, being part of a network is an opportunity for all of us to connect and build meaningful relationships for the long term. Mandatory isolation is pushing us towards each other and the desire to connect on a deeper level with peers will help all of us. Connections are created through shared experiences and it’s the power of your network that will get you through this period. That’s why I’m proud to say we connected over 550 people in the month of March and we’ll keep connecting in April, adjusting to four connections per week to fit within this new normal.
I can say for me personally that it hasn’t been easy to juggle everything from a New York City apartment, between trying to keep my clients’ programs running smoothly and home-schooling my two young boys (but that’s another article entirely). Add to that the layer of uncertainty and anxiety about our health and what might be coming next on the news and you have a perfect storm. To say that it’s a stressful time is an understatement.
One of the things that’s kept me sane has been #Connect4Women. I’ve found that reaching out is restorative and rewarding. Here’s why participating in a connection program like it might help you during these uncertain times, too:
You’ll feel less isolated
As we spend more time alone, feeling like we’re part of a community is essential, even if it just means sending a couple of emails a day. Plus, once you set the wheels in motion of a new connection, you have something to look forward to, whether it’s a new business partnership or friendship you hear about later.
There are fewer office distractions (although WFH can come with new ones)
I’m not saying that working from home doesn’t come with its own set of distractions (see my two boys, above). But nonessential meetings are being whittled down, and there’s no office chit-chat about “Love Is Blind” to pull me away from my desk. I’ve always stressed how easy it is to participate in #Connect4Women (two quick emails a day!), but now you can take advantage of the extra laptop time to do something meaningful.
Networks are essential right now
Not to sound all gloom and doom, but we don’t know what’s going to happen with the economy. If we band together, we’ll have the power of the pack behind us to get us through tough times.
There are still ways to hang out
I put together a virtual happy hour on Zoom for some of my #Connect4Women pals. I structured it to be a meaningful discussion with a light agenda, focusing on what we’ve learned from the experience and why networking is more important than ever.
Don’t just take it from me, we’re all looking to connect. Here’s what some participants had to say during the happy hour: “I call connecting ‘making a deposit into the Karma Jar,’” says Jennifer Willey, whose company Wet Cement has put together a resource guide for maintaining a positive mentality during this period of isolation (find it here). In an email, she told me, ”mental health and managing family are at the top of everyone’s concerns right now, while work is less of a priority…People are looking for ways to find happiness and laugh again!”
Coach and transitional life strategist Randi Levin said, “As people are stepping into a new reality, the idea of connecting takes on a whole new meaning. The key questions to ask are, ‘What do you need?’ We’re all stressed. We need to be as conversational as possible with each other.”
Take this time to build your network, establish those connections and create meaningful relationships that will see you through the good and bad times.
Join #Connect4Women here.
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