We’re starting to settle into this “new normal”, whatever that is. Some people are working fully remote. Many are hybrid. And a few are in-person all the time. But, we all know work will probably never be like it was before. And, for the most part, that’s OK.
You might think that, as an independent consultant, my new normal isn’t much different than before the pandemic. But, you’d be wrong. My work life has changed almost as much as yours.
I no longer visit clients on-site like I used to. As far as I can recall, I’ve only done this once in the last 2 years and it was just this past week for an on-site coaching session with executives at a large financial company in the Twin Cities.
There are no longer tons of people working at the coffee shops I frequent. Maybe it’s just the two Starbucks near me in south Minneapolis, but they are no longer full of remote workers on a daily basis (but the drive-thrus are busier than ever obviously!).
And in-person events seem to be fewer and further between than they used to be, too. Sure, industry events are still happening. Just not nearly as often as they were.
So no, I didn’t leave an office full-time to work from home for two years. But, my work life has changed a lot during the pandemic. And much of that has to do with losing contact with people.
As a solo, one of the big drawbacks is the isolation it can breed. However, I used to combat that with a mix of client visits, coffee shop work (with many other people “around”) and actual networking (coffees, events, etc.). It worked pretty well.
Now most of those opportunities have dried up. There are very few on-site client visits–most of that interaction happens over Zoom now.
There aren’t many people working in coffee shops anymore, at least not the ones I go to. So, I’m losing that small talk I used to get there, and that feeling of being around people, even if I didn’t really know them.
And events aren’t as prevalent as before. So, I’m losing that ability to stay connected to people as closely as I did before.
The environment has changed. And, as a result, so have my behaviors.
And one of those has been relying on LinkedIn as my new work “water cooler.”
I realize this is not a new phenomenon. And, to an extent, LinkedIn was a water cooler of sorts for me before the pando, too.
But now, it’s much more. It’s a central place for me to share, learn and connect with people I know professionally. What do I mean by that and what does that look like for me?
LinkedIn is where I keep up with colleagues and friends who get new jobs and promotions. How else would I learn about this right now? LinkedIn has been invaluable in this sense. And it gives me a reason to reach out to people to congratulate them and talk to them about these new jobs and promotions–more than just typing in “congrats” in the comment section.
LinkedIn is where I hear about what’s going on in our industry–both here in the Twin Cities and nationally. I hear about new clients, trends and agency news on LinkedIn. It’s full of it, actually (a bit too much at times). I hear about stuff like former Tommie, Chloe Lewis taking on the president role with AdFed. I hear about friends like Holly Spaeth being named to Brand Innovators 40 Under 40 Awards. Again, I’m not sure how I would hear about some of this stuff right now if it wasn’t for LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the place where I chat with friends and colleagues about our work and industry. Could be timely topics like Elon Musk buying Twitter and its impact on social media marketing plans. Or, it could be chatting with colleagues about how much we miss Social Media Breakfast and what we could do to potentially bring it back. This is where the watercooler, for me, really kicks in. And it’s the piece I probably miss most. And, it’s largely happening on DMs for me.
LinkedIn is also the place where I’m organizing events and meet-ups. Recently, I organized a Tommie Meet-Up at Bauhus Brew Labs in northeast Minneapolis almost entirely on LinkedIn. I’ve been reaching out to people to invite them to our first-ever Hanson & Hunt Podcast Listener Meet-Up this Thursday at HeadFlyer Brewing (register here if you’re interested–it’s free!). It’s become an invaluable tool in this regard–and one I didn’t see coming.
So, I guess I should be thanking LinkedIn for filling this new void in my professional life. And, maybe more appropriately, I should be thanking YOU–the people, friends and colleagues on LinkedIn each day who are making my life more enjoyable and interesting each and every day.