Networking Post COVID
How important is networking? I want to say it is highly important,

but the advent of social media has made networking a wholesale process and I think it has become less so. When networking was an in-person affair where you needed to get out to the golf course or into the right room in order to meet industry professionals, networking was almost everything. The old adage of it’s not what you know it’s who you know certainly rings true. If you were not at the martini lunches or a member of the club there was a very slim chance you would be able to make that all important relationship. This proved to be a particular barrier for POCs and females especially.

Then came the internet and it became much easier to get a note in front of someone, add yourself to someone's “friends list” or just put yourself out there as a candidate interested in the latest hottest opportunities. And it worked, for a while.

Now it is a wholesale numbers game. Nobody is really monitoring these “friends” as an effort to make real connections. We are all more interested in posting our message to others, gaining those few extra followers, and looking for the next viral post. No one is very interested in maintaining the connections or forging bonds to gain new associates, mentors, or friends. Worse, human resources professionals are increasingly replacing real eyeballs with AI scanning. There is no room in the machine for an outlier or gut feeling. For years industries have touted the need for creativity and critical thinking as a high value trait in new hires, but at the same time they are eliminating creativity and critical thinking from the hiring process.

I think the COVID pandemic has brought this flaw into stark relief.

As so many employers are complaining about the lack of suitable candidates, so too are applicants complaining that their efforts and job applications fall into a bottomless pit of despair. A lack of feedback is disheartening for applicants, just as a lack of appreciation for the nuance in an application limits the candidate pool in an adverse way. Even the barest acknowledgement of the effort is preferable to nothing. In this digital age why is it so hard to kick back a job app with even the barest minimum of a “Thanks but no thanks” email?
There is a joke among HR recruiters that goes something like: What’s the worst thing an applicant can hear from the recruiter? Nothing, because as applicants, who wouldn’t rather hear “We're sorry but we are moving forward with other candidates.” rather than a deafening and utter silence.

In the same way employers are finding a dearth in applications because the AI is running the same filters, however sophisticated, on everyone and so are finding no one. For example I have a friend who has only one name, Glenn. He had a terrible father and stopped using the man’s name close to a half century ago. But it does not matter that he may be the most creative visionary and the ideal candidate for the job if the HR bot does not see him because he hasn’t filled in the “second name” field on the application. 

So as we emerge from the lost year I think we will all do very well to actually get back out there and rekindle some of the real world relationships along with meeting new connections.

We here at Web Samurai For Hire are actively interested in building community and local networks of people and businesses in an effort to revitalize the waning influence of our downtown’s main streets, too long overshadowed. To that end our involvement with the local chambers of commerce has been very informative and inspiring. Particularly the efforts of Ramsey’s Chamber where they are taking great strides to be more inclusive and to encompass new ideas. They openly and aggressively develop new strategies for eventizing and putting people together. They are welcoming smaller businesses and single sole proprietors that have not always been given a seat at the table. We believe all of this helps to energize the business community, helps them all implement new and creative strategies, and increases their bottom line. The tighter the community the closer the network, the better the connection which for sure grows your business.

One thing I think we are looking forward to is getting out into the beer garden for some good old face to face networking.