Choose to Challenge Yourself: How Women Thrived in Networking During Lockdown

"Many are still struggling with loneliness and feeling disconnected not just from their professional network, but from their personal one as well. That’s why it’s more imperative than ever to be intentional about maintaining and amplifying meaningful connections.

As we reach the first anniversary of the global lockdown due to COVID-19, it helps to look back to what we’ve done to cope with our new normal and see what knowledge we gained from the past few months.

One of the more important aspects in our lives during the lockdown that has been – either positively or negatively – affected is our social network. As we all know, our respective networks serve to reinforce and amplify our communities. However, recent research shows that our professional and personal networks have shrunk during the pandemic. Yet it seems that women’s networks are thriving.

Marissa King and Balázs Kovács’ article, ‘We’re Losing Touch with Our Networks’ compared the networks of close to 200 people in June 2019, looked at the networks of those same people in June 2020, and found that men’s networks shrank by more than 450 people. Women’s networks haven’t shrunk nearly as much as men’s. In fact, the majority of overall network shrinkage is explained by men’s networks becoming smaller.

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The silver lining for women

The recent news cycles have shed light on how a considerable number of women are losing semblance of balance among work, house chores, and home-schooling and how some are even dropping out of the workforce altogether. Yet these conditions might be the cause as to why women tend to turn to each other: to reinforce the feeling of belongingness and empathy in their communities.

When it comes to networking, the natural style of most women gave them an advantage during the pandemic. We maintain connection with each other through talking face to face, talking on the phone, and exchanging messages about life updates.

In these trying times that seem to become more unpredictable as the days go by, this silver lining for women can serve as inspiration for others to choose to challenge themselves in maintaining meaningful connections with their professional and personal networks as they are critical not just for innovation, creativity and problem-solving but more so for our overall well-being.

How can you do it?

The key is sincerity. I’ve realized that the search for genuine connection and empathy is a good drive to be proactive in maintaining and growing my network.

While at times it can be emotionally challenging to open up a chat box of an acquaintance I haven’t spoken to in a while, a simple ‘how do you do?’ or ‘this reminds me of you’ has great potential to turn both of our days around for the better.

I also want to make a habit out of listing 3 to 5 people in my contacts that I haven’t spoken to in a while and simply reaching out for a virtual coffee chat. We might not know where we’re headed going in, but so many productive things can come from ad hoc, casual conversations.

They say from challenge comes change, and something as simple as checking in on a colleague to let them know they are not alone can make a big difference.

#ChooseToChallenge yourself

As we celebrate International Women’s Day this year, Gen encourages everyone to commit to helping forge a gender-equal world.

Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions. Collectively, we can all help create an empathic, inclusive world.

Happy International Women’s Day 🙋🏻‍♀‍ Visit the International Women's Day website for more information about the #ChooseToChallenge movement.

Author

Image of Vicky Ernst

Vicky Ernst

Strategic Projects

Leading Strategic Projects, Vicky drives Arcadis Gen's strategies through the lens of our customers, people, and markets. Additionally, she is also passionate about inclusion and belonging in the workplace and beyond, and strongly promotes this culture of connectedness.

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