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  • Writer's pictureSubha

Go the extra mile for yourself and your professional network during this time

network and community

How many of us ever thought that we would live through a pandemic? The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in scale and scope. Its other distinguishing characteristic is that it is the first of its kind to occur in a hi-tech, digital era. Being connected through technology has been the driving force to keep the show running despite intermittent lockdowns and stay-at-home days all year.

In many places around the world, communities have rallied round to help those less fortunate. There is nothing like a crisis to bring a community together.

Just like our local communities, most of us are part of a digital tribe, an extended family of people who share similar interests or pursue similar career paths or belong to cross-disciplinary areas we have worked with or collaborated with.

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a threat to the survival of many enterprises, particularly those of a small or medium scale. Shouldn’t we as a community of professionals come to the aid of others that are struggling to stay afloat?

Here are three ways to go the extra mile for yourself and your professional network:

  1. Invest in long-term community goals

  2. Bring your social capital to bear

  3. Revive the barter system

Invest in long-term community goals

As we evaluate the damage done over the short term as well as assess the threat over the long term, we can put our minds together to hash out ideas on how we can come together to ensure the long-term survival of the businesses that make up our professional community. Network with sensitivity to bring like-minded individuals together and be a part of the rebuilding task force.

Catalyst for Women Entrepreneurs (CWE), a network we are a part of, has truly invested in the learning and skill-building of its members by organising dozens of webinars by experts in their field. As members we are also happy to run a pro-bono session and we benefit from the range of sessions on other topics of interest and value to us.

Bring your social capital to the fore

Make all that time spent on social media building connections for yourself pay off now in the form of opportunities for others. Know someone who knows someone who is looking for a skillset belonging to someone you know?

This is the time to send out a call to connect and help them join forces. You can even craft and send out newsletters to share knowledge, tips, and employment opportunities. With geography no longer a limiting factor for certain lines of work, you can make this work in building a whole new ecosystem. Give something away without expecting anything in return. When the tide turns, good deeds are remembered.

Loved a product or service you used during a lockdown? Give the business a well-deserved shout-out on social media.

Another Women Entrepreneurs network we are part of, Her Entrepreneurial Network (HEN), is running a lovely shout-out campaign where everyone shares each others business on Instagram with the hashtag #HENforHEN. This is opening up new audiences for everyone and huge collaboration opportunities within the network itself.

Revive the barter system in case of tight budgets

During crunch times, communities have historically shared or traded resources like essentials, books, toys etc. Make the scarcity work for you. Does anyone in your network urgently need a service or item, say, an extra laptop for online school, that you can provide, but is struggling with funds to pay for it?

Maybe you can pitch in with a favour or two in exchange for something they can do or give away in return, now or eventually. This is an opportunity to put dormant assets to good use, plus, everyone saves money and resources across the board, which can be diverted to more critical needs.

How to lend a helping hand---when someone needs it but won’t ask for it upfront

Sometimes people will go to great lengths to hide the fact that they are struggling. If this is happening with someone in your professional circle, it can be a touchy subject. How can you help in such a situation?

● Whether you are part of a team or a cog in a professional network wheel, show that you can be more than that.

● Being open, approachable, and “there” can go a long way in helping someone.

● Voluntarily engage in knowledge sharing initiatives.

● Set up virtual Q&A sessions with subject matter experts in your network.

Asking for help when you need it

Networking and asking for help is not a walk in the park at the best of times, and most of us get squeamish at the thought, afraid of being rejected and rebuffed. We may fear giving others the impression of having lost control of our circumstances. Yet, we are not doing anyone any favours by brushing it under the carpet.

All it requires is an attitude shift. Asking for help is a sign of strength, that you are willing to take a helping hand to grow or recover.

  • Voluntarily engage in knowledge sharing initiatives.

  • If offered help, take it with grace.

  • Networking with sensitivity is the way to go.

What goes around does come around. This year is an opportunity to give support, foster friendships, grow together, and nurture emerging ecosystems in a professional setting as it is on a personal level.

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