Human connections matter. In good times and bad, we rely on each other. While we celebrate the “Lone Ranger” in our society, there are few examples of those who really achieve the highest levels all alone. All opportunities in life come from people. In these uncharted waters, everyone has to find ways to maintain connections.
For many, our connections to others via work is a primary link. We spend many hours working and our relationships with coworkers and clients become also social. Even if they are not at the level of friends you would spend the holidays with, the people you engage with the most often are a big part of your life.
Now we are in an era of social and physical distancing because of COVID-19, and that is going to have some serious impacts on people. Many are not prepared for the isolation and how it will become devastating for many. The joke going around is that “introverts have been preparing for this their whole lives”, but this is not about introverts and extroverts. For many years the number of people who feel lonely some of the time (or all of time) has been growing. Many assume with all our social media and digital tools that people are better connected, but it is not so for many in our society.
As we are all asked to practice social distancing and physical distancing, we should work hard to practice “Social Tightening“.
While most will do a good job of keeping up with family and close friends, there are many levels of our work lives that will be negatively impacted by this crisis. How we maintain connections with clients and coworkers will have a direct impact on our business relationships long into the future.
10 Tips To Maintain Connections
- Schedule regular check in calls. For teams and individuals it is important to create routine communications. Don’t let your team stop talking to each others. Make sure you are encouraging dialogue and remember that more communication is better. People tend to make up answers when they do not know what is happening.
- Use video when possible. Zoom, Facetime, Skype, etc… are better than email, text, or voice. Humans can relate more when seeing faces,
- Make sure people are talking to customers. Hiding is not the answer. Be visible in a variety of ways. Just like with coworkers, more communication is better.
- Do not be selling, be helping. I heard someone say that “helping is the new selling”. Your clients are not looking to buy most products or services at this time. Offer ideas and encouragement. Be focused on the future. My friend Jim Pancero (amazing leading sales consultant www.Pancero.com/virus) is telling his customers to be compassionate about the current crisis and positive about the future.
- Be flexible. With coworkers and clients, be focused on the mission not the money. I offered one client a rate of “whatever you think is fair in this unprecedented situation”. She was thrilled with this offer and we may be finding a way to work together.
- Celebrate any good news you hear about your clients or coworkers. We all need some good news.
- Comment and like people’s social media posts. While not everyone posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc… but those who do want to know their message is seen. This is one way to let your coworkers and customers know you are paying attention to them.
- Have a virtual lunch, coffee, or drink. Set up a time to be social with coworker or client just to unwind from the crazy and uncertain situation.
- Host a virtual happy hour. Open up your Zoom room and invite people to just log on at a certain time to chat. No agenda. While this is not the right answer for everyone, I am doing this every Monday at 5:00 PM central (at www.ChatWithThom.com). Feel free to come hang out while stuck at home. Bring your favorite beverage, log on, and just listen or chat.
- Write handwritten notes. I have been talking about the power of handwritten notes for a long time, and I think that in the next few months they will be more powerful than at anytime in the past. Make them personal and sincere and people will remember your effort.
We are still in the first week of shelter in place and work from home. Over time there will be more fresh ideas on how to maintain connections. While not everyone will agree with all my above suggestions, we should all agree that being proactive to maintain connections is key for the long run.
Thom Singer has been teaching human connections for 15 years. He is known as “the Conference Catalyst” for his commitment for getting people to engage more at live events. He is not helping companies find ways to keep coworkers and clients connected in a time of social distancing. He is happy to brainstorm ideas with anyone who is seeking ways to shake things up as their teams are working remotely.