Networking From Home (NFH)

In the last few weeks, we’ve suddenly found ourselves in a brand new world. Some might rightfully call it a hellscape. In a matter of a few weeks, the economy went from blazing hot to an ice age. Last Friday, the US government carpet bombed the economy with $2.2 Trillion. The day before, 3.2 million people filed for unemployment claims, orders of magnitude the largest number ever. This feels like the warm up. The future’s very uncertain.

This we know – it’s gonna get bad for a while. Probably a big hit not seen since the Great Depression. It may very well make the Great Depression look downright tame and grand. One thing is certain – many, many people will lose their jobs. Some project US unemployment is projected to be 20% to 30%, or much higher. Second quarter 2020 GDP is expected to drop off a cliff. My mind can’t even comprehend those numbers coming on so quickly. How long does the pain continue? Nobody knows. It’s becoming clear we have a Pre-Corona and Post-Corona world.

We’re only starting to understand the impact of novel coronavirus on various aspects of the economy and society. Amidst the fog, one thing that is clear – remote is the new reality. During the pandemic, much of the workforce has gone remote. For many companies that relied upon physical offices, this is a big adjustment, as they are suddenly trying to figure out how to manage employees working from cramped dinner tables or couches. For a few remote-native companies and workers, it’s business as usual.

For several years, I’ve been involved in the local tech community by helping with various meetups. I attribute much of my personal success to the networks I’ve built through these meetups. As I often tell people who ask me for career advice – invest in your network. Apart from your skills (here I’m assuming you’ve got skills), your network is the next single most important thing.

With in-person events a thing of the past, we’ve been experimenting with video-based virtual meetups and afternoon chats. I’ve gotta say, there are many things I like about this format better than the physical versions. Geographic constraints are gone, so I’m chatting with people all over the globe. This helps make the world feel smaller. We’re all dealing with the same craziness, no matter where we live. Meetups are more efficient – they’re less cliquey, you socialize more, and you don’t have to commute to the event. Plus it’s kind of cool seeing everyone’s home. 

Networking from home is the new thing, and I suggest openly embracing it. This is the perfect opportunity to make new friends and keep ties with old ones. Will you keep your job or land a new one? Who knows. In these uncertain times, it’s best to find communities of people who can help each other out.

I’ve studied the Great Depression in quite a bit of detail. During that time, those who had strong networks were able to find opportunities. Those who went it alone found it very difficult.

The same lessons apply today. Grow your network. Watch each other’s backs. Adapt and figure out how to thrive in whatever comes from the Post-Corona world.

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