DEAR HARRIETTE: Now that people are hosting virtual parties all the time, there is a whole new social scene to worry about. I just learned that a group of my co-workers who used to hang out on Friday nights after work sometimes host a virtual cocktail party, and they haven’t invited me. Now, to be fair, I didn’t go every week to their gathering because I have a kid and I often had to get home early. But now that I’m already home, I could easily join them. I don’t want to be left out, but I’m not sure how to handle this. Is it OK for me to ask if they would invite me the next time they get together? -- Left Out
DEAR LEFT OUT: Now is the time for you to speak up and let the group know that you would love to get together with them. Rather than making it a group ask, though, you should identify one team member with whom you have the closest relationship and tell that person that you would love to get together with them. Be upfront about it, saying how it was difficult for you when the group would hang out after work and you had to get home to your child, but it is much easier now. The other person you might want to contact is whomever you see as the organizer. If one person stands out in that role, reach out to him or her, and ask to be included in the next virtual get-together.
If they are slow to invite you, consider creating your own one-on-one get-togethers with your co-workers where the two of you can use video streaming technology so that you can see each other. Just spend some time getting reacquainted. Over time, they may decide to include you in the fold of the larger group.