Everywhere we turn, we hear the now-popular refrain – we are in this together. But what does this really mean? As individuals and business owners, we have encountered a situation unprecedented in our lifetimes. We are processing new information on a daily basis and figuring out what this means for us, our families and our businesses.
For some of us, our businesses are already primarily online or can easily be adapted to go virtual. For many others, figuring out how to translate our services to an exclusively virtual format is far more challenging. Trying to work out these new models is made more difficult as we are socially isolating and figuring out this new framework seemingly on our own.
As we enter Week 6 of sheltering in place in the U.S. and have started getting our bearings, we are also starting to understand that these disruptions and the coronavirus will be affecting us for the long haul. For me, this has made me wonder whether ‘we are all in this together’ is just a platitude, or if it is something that has real meaning that we can treat as a Call to Action – and treat as a foundation for some real community building.
Social distancing is the catch phrase du jour. But I’d rather frame this as physical distancing while maintaining and strengthening our social connections, needed now more than ever. The emphasis here is on a long-term commitment to our communities, whether that is the literal neighborhood where you live and work, or your business community that includes your office team and greater professional network. If you have a network that you have been building for years, now is the perfect opportunity to reconnect and share advice. If this has been on the back burner, there are many opportunities to create new connections.
Virtual webinars and self-paced courses are easy to find. There are any number of platforms to focus on your educational goals, with pricing ranging from free to low cost. Here are a few ways you can find new groups, develop skills, make new connections and build your own community through live and interactive programs, personal or professional — regardless of your current location:
1. Language Skills – Language learning high on your list of priorities for personal or professional development? Italki.com facilitates direct connection with professional teachers or community members around the world. You can search by language or country and schedule meetings for as little as 30 minutes. Once you find someone who might be a good fit, you can set up formal grammar instruction or practice conversations and learn about what people are doing in any number of countries! Online trials start as low as $3 for 30 minutes, and hourly rates range in price, but can start at $5 per 60 minutes.
2. Public Speaking – Thinking that your clients would benefit from a webinar or online workshop, but anxious about speaking in ‘public’? Nonprofit Toastmasters International clubs around the world are hosting online meetings. Improve your public speaking and leadership skills with membership dues of $45 USD every 6 months.
3. Yoga, Bootcamps, and Dancing – While there are strict social distancing restrictions in place, in many locations we are still fortunate to enjoy time outdoors. But there are many ways to schedule physical activity into your day right from our homes, with instructors and group class members. Looking to stream yoga live? Core Power Yoga offers free live classes streamed via YouTube; Y7 Yoga live streams candlelight yoga via Instagram throughout the week for free or optional donation to City Meals; Bootcamp-style workouts more your speed? For $25 per class (or pay what you can), Personal Fitness Concierge Billy Joe Young offers virtual weekly Body & Soul Group Workouts that incorporate dance and kickboxing into the workout, along with virtual training sessions; Want to learn some new dance steps during your lunch break? Dance Together NYC offers private and group lessons – in NYC or elsewhere – via Zoom and works just as well for solo lessons.
As we find new ways to move forward in our personal and professional lives in this new normal, we can focus on our communities in ways large and small. What have you found to be effective ways to build your community? Please drop me a note to share your thoughts and ideas at [email protected].