Networking During a Pandemic is So Weird.
I had extremely high hopes for 2020 (just read my last blog post--it's almost as if I jinxed myself). I had booked a set of challenging projects for the first half of the year and was confident I could network my way to new assignments for the second half. Then March hit--and, little by little, many of those projects started limping along slowly or gradually getting postponed. This is definitely the strangest period I have experienced in my many years as an independent writer and consultant.
My livelihood depends on asking people for work. Pure and simple. Some are contacts I already have, but I also need to keep adding to my network if I want to find challenging and interesting work. But it can feel downright rude to cold-message people who are already facing turmoil in their own organizations due to COVID-19. I haven't stopped marketing myself, but I am very conscious of how I come across in messages of introduction. My approach so far has been to:
(1) Acknowledge the situation: I don't use the work "unprecedented"--I'm tired of it-- but I do mention the fact that I am fully aware that every organization is grappling with uncertainty. I stress that I am sending this message of introduction in the hope that the situation will normalize, or at least ease, at some point.
(2) Emphasize that I am in it for the long haul: I've been in business long enough to know that an inquiry sent in 2015 might not yield any results until 2017. My goal right now is just to get my name and credentials in front of people who eventually might think of me for the kinds of writing and creative communications projects I want to do.
(3) Cement the connection through social media, such as LinkedIn or Twitter: If someone responds positively, I always try to establish a formal connection so that we can keep in touch over time.
I've accepted the fact that this isn't going to be a banner year for me. But I think it can be a good enough year, with some hard work and persistence.