Networking's new normal
Brooke E. Kulusich (left): ‘Now that many are Zoom-friendly, it presents an incredible opportunity to transcend geographic barriers and interact with peers, mentors, and speakers regardless of their locations.’
With regional and national meetings gone remote, highly-anticipated experiential rotations canceled, and long-distance travel limited indefinitely, it seems that COVID–19 has impeded traditional opportunities for face-to-face networking. However, this does not have to be the case. The pandemic will undoubtedly revolutionize the way student pharmacists will have to foster and expand their professional circles, but it might not be for the worse. I have come to appreciate this unique season as an opportunity to rethink geographic boundaries, cultivate my existing relationships remotely, and use social media as a platform to engage with others.
Transcend geographic barriers
Before the world went remote, I often found myself limited to my community of local contacts who were less likely to be hindered by long-distance travel or schedule conflicts. Now that many are Zoom-friendly, an incredible opportunity exists to transcend geographic barriers and interact with peers, mentors, and speakers regardless of their locations. I have found great value in capitalizing on my relationships with faculty advisors and new practitioner mentors who are often eager to connect students with their colleagues around the country.
Nevertheless, efforts to grow your networks must not always aim at those higher on the professional ladder. Networking horizontally with fellow student pharmacists at the chapter, regional, and national levels can have a tremendous compounding effect over time. In this unique period of separation, everyone is yearning to regain a sense of community. Consider scheduling a virtual social event or coffee date to meet one another, share ideas, and build lasting friendships with student pharmacists beyond your local chapter.
Now more than ever, people are using social media as a tool to remain connected. Make use of this time to ensure that your social media profiles reflect your personal brand and curate a network that aligns with your professional goals. LinkedIn is an excellent platform for sharing relevant articles, responding to other people’s posts, and even launching a blog in your own areas of interest. Additionally, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be a tool to engage regularly with followers, share professional updates, and amplify content reach.
Emerge with resilience
Throughout the pandemic, I have come to appreciate the value of social capital and the sense of community garnered through my professional contacts. This is an opportunity to think creatively about scaling your networks virtually, connecting with colleagues old and new, and constructing your online identity. Although large-scale events remain on hold for the foreseeable future, incorporating these tactics will position you to emerge with resilience when we meet again soon.
Brooke E. Kulusich is a third-year PharmD candidate at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy.