Earlier today I was on a networking call with a new colleague/friend. He said something that struck me as, surprisingly, not all that weird. He said that someone had asked him around Thanksgiving last week what he was grateful for and his response was the pandemic.

He was grateful for the pandemic.

His former job was in food service and after a furlough and a layoff he had to switch gears and he found an entirely new career that allows him to meet with people (although virtually) all day and have a chance to really get to know people, one-to-one. He sees that as a win for his own family (and, fortunately, his family has remained healthy).

So it got me thinking… there are actually a few changes that came about as of this “new normal” everyone keeps referring to that I hope stay even once everything is reopened. Also the phrase “new normal” is old already. I know.

My thoughts on some positives coming out of 2020:

  1. I know people out there have “Zoom fatigue” but I have to say, the networking opportunities have been incredible through this “work from home” period. In the past, a networking event would be a lunch or breakfast where the people I got to speak with the most were the two people on either side of me at the table. So if they aren’t a good fit or there’s no chemistry, you’re “stuck” with them the rest of the hour, with no opportunity to really get to know others in the room. Any kind of follow-up one-to-one would generally take place at Starbucks which involved travel time and once you’ve driven there, you’re likely going to meet for at least an hour… but what if you only had 15 minutes worth of conversation? I find that online networking has been a much more efficient way to do these types of “events.” For networking events we get to meet people around the room (err… screen) and those one-to-ones? They can legitimately be 15-30 minutes and the only travel time is from the kitchen to your screen. This is a true benefit and one I hope stays.
  2. Along the same lines of virtual connection, the realization that we can connect with old friends from college, summer camp, childhood has really been refreshing. I don’t know WHY it took 25 years for my sorority pledge class to do a virtual reunion but here we are and in 2020 we got to reconnect and walk down memory lane. Though the holidays have been and will be tough because we can’t do our usual, we’ve managed by connecting with family and staying in touch. I hope this never goes away.
  3. Finally, I’ll be honest, this one may not resonate with everyone. But the whole hand-shaking someone you don’t know? Yeah. For me, that’s over. I didn’t like touching other people’s hands before and I’m not going to back to it now. BUT I will hug it out. It’s true that I’ve never really met a stranger but that being said, I don’t know where you put your hands.

I’ve tried as much as possible to focus on the silver linings we can find through all of this. I don’t think we’ll be stuck in “new normal” (how sick of that phrase ARE we?) but I also don’t think we’re ever headed back to “old normal.” And for the reasons listed above, I’m grateful.

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