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Experts and Alumni Shed Light on Building Social Networks in the Age of COVID-19

Claremont Colleges alumni, faculty, and students came together virtually on October 9th, 2020, to discuss something that we’re all thinking about during this time of isolation – how do we build and maintain our connections with others, especially if we’re never together? What are the key components to relationships, personal and professional, regardless of the mode of communication? Sponsored by the Berger Institute and CMC Career Services, this event featured four panelists: Dr. Saida Heshmati, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Claremont Graduate University and expert in positive relationships, Erikan Obotetukudo, networking and community building consultant and strategic advisor, Faye Sahai, Co-Founder and Partner at Mirai SV Global and Managing Director at Vinaj Ventures, and Stacie Yee, Partner in Los Angeles at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. Panel topics included why positive relationships matter for resilience, important strategies for cultivating mentorship, friendship, and professional peer relationships, and even how we can leverage social media to build and maintain our networks right now. Both Erikan and Faye emphasized, for example, that you should “google yourself. . .take control of your digital brand” to proactively build your network online and show who you are. This is true for mentorship as well, according to Stacie, where being proactive and making sure you get what you want out of the relationship can help both sides. Saida explained the importance of all these connections to both our mental and physical health and how focusing on high-quality relationships is linked to longer lifespans. Attendees were able to absorb these pieces of advice over the lunch hour and come away with strategies and confidence for building their own networks in the coming months. One attendee notes, “As a young professional early in my career, I found a lot of their advice to be sound, and a lot of the problems they encountered early in their careers resonate with my current fears and issues. Their wisdom has appropriately shown me the ways to interact with people in different hierarchical positions.” Follow us on social media or on our website for future events!