In The News: Keeping the human connection during social distancing
This article originally appeared in the Worcester Business Journal on April 27th, 2020.
When I started to write this at the beginning of March, this article was about the need for the genuine human connection that businesses need to maintain with those in their network, from partners to communities. Now, in a world of social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and fear of human contact, I still believe human connection is necessary in business, more than ever. I’m rewriting this as we rewrite how to meet, network, and build new relationships: I believe in the same things, but I’m doing them in new ways.
During this pandemic, you can (and should) build stronger connections
Before this all happened, how often did you end a business conversation with, “Stay safe”? Showing human compassion and concern has become more critical than ever and understand you can do it and still be professional. Just like you shouldn’t delay meetings (just take them online), you shouldn’t delay reaching out to your networked and partnered businesses because of the disruption. You might find new ways to help each other and compare notes on local resources. Resume normal business when times are normal.
Avoid falling back on normal communication channels
When I was writing this before, I was stressing the need for face-to-face meetings to build connections, from the sincerity of the effort of meeting in-person to how it can build trust and emotional ties email, texts, and phone calls simply can’t convey. Right now, in the world of social distancing, it’s easy to fall back on these communication channels, but you might be surprised how well video chatting and conferencing can stand in right now to strengthen relationships.
Along with breaking the habit of falling back on text or voice, you’ll need to realign some meeting standards, both for digital ease and during this crisis. What has worked for us:
- Don’t worry about perfection. A good thing to apply to anything during this crisis, but especially true for video communication. Perfectly quaffed hair to perfect business-and-home backdrops. Don’t worry: everyone knows we live in interesting times.
- Technical issues will happen. We’ve rarely been in a video call lately that doesn’t have at least a minor
problem. Unreliable connections, faulty video or sound: just power through it.
Make sure to keep human connections at home
My favorite social psychologist, Adam Grant from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, talked about how the lines between work and home are blurring as we have to build offices in our homes, and our cohabiters suddenly become our coworkers. Understand and expect interruptions when you’re working, from mundane questions to them just checking in to see if you’re alright, regardless if they have two legs or four.
It’s important to view your business and its partners, clients, and fans as relationships in your life to maintain, both during and after these trying times. Even if you’re going remote or shutting down your business, don’t close the door on these relationships to help your business, industry, and community. And stay safe.
Julia Becker Collins is the chief operating officer at Westborough digital marketing agency Vision Advertising. Contact us to learn more.