Strengthening Your Network Through Human Connection

Sharon Keane ’84
Meet Sharon on IrishCompass

Life today is far from normal and often uncomfortable as we fulfill family, school, life, and work responsibilities — attempting to do our best for everyone and everything. That’s not easy, especially when we are so often interacting at arm’s length.

As human beings we crave personal connections and this environment is filled with dynamics that disconnect us — remote workplaces, masks, social distancing, and screens. We are not attending in-person professional conferences nor participating in networking events. Even job interviews are conducted online. And yet, for all the artificial intelligence, algorithms, apps, and mega online job boards, career success is still accomplished through human relationships. 

It’s vital that we maintain, enhance, and grow our relationships and that we don’t put them on pause during the pandemic. This is true for our well-being and also as we want or need to make a job change or career transition. Did you know that the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that over 80 percent of job opportunities are not advertised or are filled by someone known to the employer?

Here are three practical ways to strengthen your network through human connection:

Tap the global Notre Dame network with confidence. We all need a robust network, trusted advisors, mentors, coaches and, at specific points, jobs. The ND network on IrishCompass provides you with all of this.

The shared University bond is foundational to responsiveness and trust. Use IrishCompass to establish and cultivate relationships that help you explore and understand professions or industries of interest. You can identify alumni by organization, industry, profession, degree, city, dorm, and much more. It’s easy to email them directly too! This community also gives you the opportunity to reciprocate by supporting others as they consider and discern career changes. 

Maximize professional associations for private networking. Be sure you are tuned into and utilizing the leading professional associations in your field and industry. Research the leading organizations who draw industry thought leaders and have their pulse on trends and the marketplace. You should be an active member using the member and speaker rosters as well. Identify a dozen or so individuals and connect with them for a one-on-one conversation and/or consider a small group gathering. 

Lead with sensitivity, compassion, and empathy. We all seek genuine and trustworthy connections. Now more than ever, we need to be sensitive to each other’s situations and, with compassion and empathy, explore ways to be mutually helpful. What perspective or advice can I share? Who do I know who could be helpful? What information do I need to gain a deeper understanding of the career change I am considering? Who is in a strong position to share that with me?

These tips -- combined with a mindset that views these disruptions as opportunities for fresh starts and relationships -- will lead to greater well-being and career success.

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