I'm a third year Math PhD student in the US. My concern is that my PhD is going to be stunted in the following sense:
I am my advisor's only graduate student. This is not uncommon for grad students in math. I do however compare this to my friends and colleagues in astronomy who have research groups. They meet every week and discuss their work with each other. On the other hand, I have nobody apart from my advisor to discuss my work with. I can't discuss my frustrations in research or my elation in learning something new in an informal setting. My research area (geometric function theory) is very niche in the sense that we're the only ones working on complex analysis in our department.
So far I have not attended any conferences. I had an opportunity to attend one last summer, but it got cancelled due to the pandemic. It seems unlikely that an in person conference will happen for at least another semester or so. I have not had the opportunity to meet peers in my field from other universities and learn what they do. I have not made any connections.
To summarize, I'm worried that my training in research is not going to be "wholesome". I saw my seniors present at conferences and make collaborations and friends from all over. I'm worried that not attending conferences will be held against me in the post-doc market and that I am currently unable to learn the current advances in my field because of my limited (non-existent) exposure to the math community.
My specific questions are:
What are some practical measures I can implement to make connections? How do I get to know some people in my field? (I do attend talks over zoom but these aren't exactly sociable events due to their online nature.)
How important is attending conferences with regard to post-doc applications and how can I compensate for not attending any, in the remaining two years of my program?
Thanks for your time.