Yale School of Management researchers have found that during the pandemic, a woman’s professional and personal networks were not as greatly affected in comparison to a man’s, which the researchers say underscores “that we need to understand how networks work, and to use the time we do have to use those networks to help fulfill our needs”.

In an opinion editorial in the Harvard Business Review, the researchers said, “If you think of your network as a series of six concentric circles that decrease in emotional intensity as you move toward the larger outer rings, the innermost circle contains the five or so people you turn to in times of severe emotional and financial distress. The outermost ring is made up of the roughly 1,500 acquaintances or weak ties whom you would recognize by sight.”

The problem with the pandemic is that we are relying more heavily on our inner circles and due to social distancing curbs, we aren’t interacting with our casual acquaintances. In the past year, those circles have shrunk by 16%, or at least 200 people.

A shrinking network has some serious implications in terms of career progress, promotions and searching for a job. 

Importantly though, a shrinking network compounds feelings of isolation and decreases our sense of belonging, which means we are less likely to identify with the organization we are with, putting those companies at risk of turnover, and possibly fraud and negligence.

Being part of a network that promotes engagement, one which offers support from it’s members let’s you remove yourself from the organization’s thinking and gives you a capacity to be innovative, because you hear different perspectives. 

Nick Jonsson, the founder of EGN Singapore says, “Although networking in person can be very effective, people are not shy to network online now, especially on social media, such as LinkedIn. Interest groups or virtual communities also provide networking opportunities. But we like to engage professionals to network and we provide a regular confidential forum for people to get together and discuss best practices. 

EGN member, Trine Hodal, says “We debate on specific topics that are challenging and we share knowledge of processes from each of our companies. EGN is very much about knowledge sharing, inspiration and gaining new perspectives as a leader.”

Moreover, being a member of a networking group provides facility to let go of the daily frustrations that come with being a leader in an organization. Eileen Lau, Director, ING, and an EGN Member says, “In a network of peers, you tend to be more open when talking about your challenges, personal failings and vulnerabilities without feeling you will lose credibility in your leadership.” 

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