Opinion: Alright then, let’s get back to business the old-fashioned way
As I sit in front of my special mate – my computer, my connection to the outside world –I’m banging out articles and speaking more than I ever have in a ‘normal’ workday, thanks to the escalation in video meetings. Coronavirus has put a serious dent in my - and many other businesses - but common themes are surfacing that are really pleasing as we solider on doing the best we can.
It seems the old way of doing business was not serving many of us well – burnout, overwhelm, stress and confusion reigned supreme. While things are not all sunshine and rainbows – massive job and business losses, threat of deflation and depression are not ideal outcomes – there are always serendipities in the muck.
What is abundantly clear is many are hoping we don’t ever return to the days of the business hustle, slick online personas, cheesy over the top Facebook posts about our ‘successes’ and running around to far too many meetings that we now find out were really not necessary.
Ahhhhh… time to slow down
A collective sigh of relief was exhaled because we realise all those meetings could have been done online in half the time, the exorbitantly high priced services were really not worth the big bucks, and the flim flam, folk who dominated social platforms have disappeared because their flaws were unmasked. The wall between personal and professional has crumbled as we see each other for who we are – warts and all (it is hard to be uber professional when your dog is barking in the background and the kids are grumbling about all the work they have to do for school).
Moving on to the next phase of COVID-19
Now the grief and shock has dissipated, many businesses have gotten back to basics, to the old-fashioned way of doing business – the loveliness of human to human connection. People are checking in on each other, asking how they can help and offering their services for free.
It’s dawned on us as the calls of ‘you must pivot’ reverberate across platforms, that we’re more alike than we realise. As our businesses lay in tatters at our feet, that by supporting each other, we can find ways to recover.
Ch ch ch ch changes
Things have changed. I for one hope we do not slip back into the old ways. The old ways were not serving me well.
Now instead of well-coiffed hair and the business best, people are showing up on calls as is (well maybe we have brushed our hair, but no one must know we haven’t brushed our teeth).
Facebook groups have sprung up that have nothing to do with business but more to do with what it means to be a human.
Moulds are being broken – you are an accountant who plays the harpsichord? Post COVID-19, no one would have know but now the cat is out of the bag and you’ve revealed you are real person who is more than a number cruncher. People like that; they want to do business with people more than a brand or a persona.
People are talking more; like really talking. Not just superficial small talk but deep conversations about trials, tribulations and challenges. Less messages are being sent and more actual talking is taking place.
The F bomb is being dropped more and no one is batting an eye (or is that just wishful thinking on my behalf?)
People are more patient and less demanding – expectations have been lowered (not for quality but for expediency).
Now is the perfect time to build foundation of goodwill and connections. This is not forever, and we should keep going now with how we want things to be after we are released from our homes.
Relationship building – call your clients (or ex-clients for many of us). Check in to see how they are going, not to sell to them but to really find out how they are doing.
Shed the skin – give people a peak into the whole you. Share a talent, a skill or something that has nothing to do with your business. Being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness, that is corporate BS (let’s get rid of that suffocating business norm).
Give, give and give – you don’t have to give away the family home, but you can remove the paywall from your online program – help people upskill – offer a free session to give advice or guidance, run a webinar on your area of expertise or team up with another business to do something nice for someone else.
Tell, don’t sell – your business page doesn’t have to go to waste because this is a great time to let people in. Instead of going for the sale, tell a story, build your brand and profile, give insights into what you do, how you do and why you do it. The people prospering post-COVID-19 will be the ones who remember they are dealing with another human being, not a unit number or sales figure. Keep marketing but mix it up with more you in it.
Listen – listen more, talk less. Give people space to move through this. We’re not all in this together, while we may all be going through coronavirus, each person’s experience is different and don’t diminish it by saying it’s all the same.
If you were to give me three wishes, I take just one wish – to not go back to the old ways of doing business. For most part, it was superficial and transactional. I like this way – of connecting, giving and sharing.