I have also heard how many people have been struggling and it seems no one is immune from the ramifications of the global pandemic. This has all made me realise that I am very fortunate to be part of some great communities and I’d like to encourage anyone who is looking for community to reach out, I’m more than happy to have a chat with you!
I am part of a number of different networking groups, including NextGen. During lockdown the team started The Morning Commute and at the end of June they hosted their very first virtual conference, including the 24-hour global commute, no mean feat.
Various members of the community had stepped forward and given amazing talks that inspired us all and in doing so, they have raised thousands for two charities, The Stroke Association and CF Warriors. At the end of the conference week I felt so proud to be a part of this community.
A week later, a friend of mine told me that she was struggling with her career and I asked her if she had anyone she could talk to, perhaps other people in a similar stage, role or age. For a second I was astonished that there wasn’t a NextGen community in her industry, and it was then that I realised how fortunate the Financial Planning profession is to have such a community.
Twitter is another community, but recently it’s caused a bit of a stir and I’ve seen that some have decided to leave. This is a real shame but is also understandable. While I feel freedom of speech should be encouraged, there is a fine line between this and unacceptable nastiness. It is because of this I often shy away from sharing my thoughts and opinions for fear of being attacked.
I joined Twitter in order to network and meet likeminded professionals and I’ve met so many lovely people along the way. I enjoy following many different people and seeing differing views, but Twitter can often be an echo chamber.
A refreshing alternative to Twitter, is Octo members. Reading others’ opinions and thoughts, and the comments that follow which may agree with or challenge an article, do so in a much more civilised manner than is often seen on Twitter! Virtual pub meetings on Wednesdays at 5pm have also been welcome, it’s great to see faces and have a chat and debate about various topics.
While it is great to have a network of people in your profession to chat to, having communities outside of your work life is just as important. You can find support in a number of different places.
Family and friends are perhaps a more obvious place to turn for support. Often, I have found that I don’t want to talk about the things that have been worrying me, but it’s just nice to have a chat about something completely different.
Since 2017, my fiancé and I have been members and volunteers at St Albans Cathedral. This was a great way to meet people in the church community and give back. Once the Cathedral has re-opened, we volunteered a few spare hours at the weekend to steward and be a friendly face. It was also a great opportunity to meet more people that may go to different Sunday services than we do (perhaps early birds that frequent the 8am service!)
This year has certainly not been the best, by a long stretch, but I am determined that some good should come of it. Lockdown has shown the importance of relationships; friends, family and colleagues, perhaps a lesson that I needed to learn. I realise I am fortunate to be part of so many amazing communities and there are some who don’t have this luxury, so I’d encourage anyone who is struggling, or would like to have a virtual chat to reach out, I’d love to hear from you.