How to network, connect and keep your career cranking amid COVID-19

The global economy might seem nightmarish right now, but golden opportunities await those with the fortitude to adapt, speak up and reach out.

That’s the consensus of an esteemed panel of HR and communication pros who shared insights at Communications Week’s 2020 kickoff virtual event, “Career Connections: What You Need to Succeed in a COVID-19 Environment.” The webinar, moderated by Ragan Communications CEO Diane Schwartz, featured career coach Stacey StaatermanTiffany Francis, chief people officer at Magnite; and Stephanie Howley, EVP of global talent management at BCW.

“Things are transforming before our very eyes,” Schwartz said, pointing out not all change is bad. Communicators are in prime position to gain more respect and prove their worth.

“We’re going through a big awakening as a culture,” Staaterman said, which requires bold communicators who are willing to initiate and facilitate tough conversations. They must also be willing to build alliances—internally and externally.

“From an HR perspective, I’m viewing comms as an extension of HR,” Francis added. “The two must be in lockstep moving forward. People are afraid and anxious, and they want communication consistently and clearly.”

How can you accomplish all this while working from home?

It comes down to creativity. Staaterman suggested making the most of this Zoom-heavy moment by honing your presentation skills and mastering the art of connecting online.

“Practice being on video,” she said. “Look into the lens to establish better personal connection.”

Now’s a great time for communication pros to pursue professional development, especially skills related to data analysis. You can find plenty of free training at MOOC and edX, and Francis pointed out that LinkedIn Learning is currently offering loads of free resources. Whatever you choose to pursue, bolster skills that help you demonstrate and prove the value you bringing to the table.

Mentoring and reverse mentoring should also be top of mind.

“Barter skills and tap into your network,” Schwartz said. “Make yourself indispensable.”

Companies are on the lookout for adaptable, flexible employees who are committed to lifelong learning. It’s crucial to remain relevant, as “Skills you learn today could be obsolete next month,” according to Staaterman.

Experts share five tangible ways to remain relevant and indispensable in this difficult job market.

By Alicia Hibbard
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