For those of you who appreciate a nice standup cocktail, a gathering of crisp suits, and the yuk-yuk-yukking it up of like-minded professionals, this post will not evoke feelings of hope or promise. For those of you who tremble and fill with existential dread at the mention of “networking”, prepare to be stoked.
As our lives moved online and we adapted to the telecommunicated surroundings of the COVID-19 world, traditional ways of operating evolved to accommodate the new-new-new normal. Networking, the process by which we meet new people and put our names into the ether, was not immune to this ongoing evolution.
Cocktail hours went the way of the dodo. Conventions became a dying breed. Professional dinners transformed into but a mere memory. (OK, I’m being dramatic, especially in light of the rapidly increasing vaccine rollout, but these events are significantly less common and may continue to be scant, at least in the near to mid future).
In the wake of this shift, a new type of networking emerged: the networking/gaming session.
The “netgaming” session (I’m still working on a catchy name) involves playing a social video game while chatting with teammates and opponents. Like a standard networking event, “gameworking” (better?) provides participants an opportunity to connect with people ranging from contemporaries in similar industries to those diametrically opposed in all facets of life. The point is, it allows you to meet people and establish contacts.
As an example, political juggernaut Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently participated in a livestreamed Among Us session with fellow lawmakers. While more of a campaign event than a traditional networking session, it demonstrated an online game’s ability to bring people together in a semi-professional forum that fostered both conversation and fun—precisely what a networking session strives to do.
It is not difficult to envision similar events taking place. The games may differ and the participants will vary (AOC is a busy woman, after all), but the undeniable fact is that netgaming provides an alternative to traditional networking, an especially appealing one in a time when leaving one’s residence is to be avoided.
And while online networking/gaming sessions may not replace the storied cocktail hour, they do embrace the evolving world, both in terms of technology and the pandemic, and allow networkers a safe space to meet others.
For better or for worse, networking has changed. No longer does the desire to stay within the comfort of one’s home present an impediment to building your network. Video games now represent a viable option for putting yourself out there in a professional capacity. Gamers the world over rejoice! “Net-game-working” is here to stay (nailed it!).