As I write this, there is a very positive look on where we will be in September. Many firms are looking to a new hybrid work model. Companies are doing the same albeit maybe a little later in the year. We have gone from jokes about touching our faces, to complete lockdown, to a progressive work environment many have been asking about for years.
What does this mean for your relationships with clients and co-workers? No longer will you have to meet on Zoom. It will be possible to meet for a coffee. Once again you may “bump” into someone at a restaurant or on an elevator. In-person conferences are a big deal again. And if you hear someone say “new normal,” “social distance,” or “unprecedented” you may turn and run. We are tired but we are excited. Excited to do the things we used to do and about our next phase.
From a business development perspective, it is time to pull some old ideas. How often are you connecting in person with your clients? What is your elevator speech? Did you remember to iron your shirt before going out?
It is time to consider what we have learned in the last 18 months. We have connected with people in many cases on a deeper level than ever before. We have spent time with each other’s families– okay it was on Zoom but it was still new. Non-work conversations about kids and hobbies have different meaning as we have allowed others into our homes. Working hours have changed. We never used to see, “I sent this email at a time that works for me. Respond at a time that works for you.” Yet many of us are working harder than ever to develop and maintain relations.
Professionals who have maintained and enhanced client relations will continue to excel. If your idea of business development is taking a client to a sporting event, the good news is they will likely be back. It may take a bit more work to get people out, but those who are able to may feel a bit more special than in the past. If you have embraced technology, continue to use it but remember that it should not be your only tool for connecting with people.
I am very excited about what the next few months hold. I am excited to see a new dynamic in how we develop relationships. And most of all, I am excited about seeing people, in person, enjoying each other as we move forward in how we work together!