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8 Tips to Maintain Professional Development & Connections During Coronavirus

By Naomi Beard Nelson

We’re all hearing a lot about how to protect our health during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak...but what about protecting your career growth? You’ve put a lot of work into professional development and building relationships. That doesn’t have to grind to a halt in the face of cancelled travel, closed offices, and economic uncertainty. 

Continuing to cultivate professional connections and keep your career growth plans on track can help you manage stress, avoid isolation—and be prepared for success in the future. Here are eight quick tips that can help.

Fast Company recommends reestablishing relationships  on LinkedIn with colleagues from previous jobs, your alma mater, and even social connections.

Fast Company recommends reestablishing relationships on LinkedIn with colleagues from previous jobs, your alma mater, and even social connections.

fizkes | Shutterstock

  1. Maintain mentoring. If you usually get together for mentorship in person, stick to your plans even if your office has required remote work or you’re practicing “social distancing.” A virtual coffee meet-up over video chat—like FaceTime, Zoom, or Google Hangouts—keeps your connections thriving. Brew a cup and connect digitally! (As an additional gesture, you could mail a Starbucks gift card with the promise of an in-person get-together later.
  2. Replace live trainings with webinars. When in-person professional development events are canceled, look for online options instead. Many organizations offer webinars or pre-recorded sessions online—spend the time you had set aside for a conference or training session seeking out digital resources. 
  3. Roll out your Rolodex. One of the biggest benefits of attending professional development events is the chance to network with colleagues and potential mentors. In the absence of that opportunity, make a point to reach out to your contacts. Share what you’ve been learning and invite their insights. 
  4. Collaborate and communicate. Working remotely might make it hard to feel connected to your colleagues, so make a point to communicate proactively. If your team uses an online platform for real-time communication—like an instant messenger, Whatsapp, or Slack—be sure you’re responsive and keep important conversations flowing. Rely on video and voice—phone calls over emails, video meetings over conference calls—to reinforce interpersonal connections. 
  5. Make remote work work for you. If working remotely is rare for you, focus on ways to maintain your productivity and teamwork. Lean toward more communication to keep everyone in the loop. When you can’t pop by someone’s desk in person, ask if they’re up for texting or a quick call instead. And although working from home offers the appeal of wearing pajamas all day, you’ll feel better and get more done if you put on what you’d wear to the office, just like any other morning. 
  6. Rely on routine. Coping with stressful situations is easier when you maintain as much of your usual routine as possible. If your normal day-to-day is disrupted by closed offices or grounded flights, be sure to continue whatever parts of your usual work routine you can—especially the aspects that keep you connected to others. In addition to reducing your own feelings of unease, it will strengthen your professional relationships when people know they can count on you to be a reliable resource. 
  7. Use extra time for development and wellness. Some of us are busier than ever right now, while others might find sudden gaps in our schedules. Is your commute moot in light of closed offices? No TSA lines to wait in due paused travel? Consider using any unexpected extra time to do that training, networking, or stress-reduction practice you’ve been meaning to get around to.
  8. Consider a coach. With many firms curtailing in-person events, you might find yourself missing out on training and development opportunities you were looking forward to. In addition to any online resources your firm may be offering, think about engaging a career coach who specializes in attorney professional development to fill the gap and help keep you on track in advancing your skills and expertise. 

Worldwide upheavals are stressful, disruptive—and temporary. You don’t need to wait for life to return to normal in order to take steps that help your career move forward. Implementing strategies like those above may help you counteract the sense of isolation and disconnection that can arise in times like these--and even cultivate your resiliency in the face of future challenges. 

Naomi Beard Nelson

CEO, Naomi Beard & Associates, Inc.

© 2020 Naomi Beard & Associates, Inc. This article was originally published on the Naomi Beard & Associates website; please do not copy or distribute without attribution.