I am by any measurement a “social” business person. I am a self-described “product of networking.” I enjoy every element of getting together with groups of people and being surrounded by individuals who like to gather and converse on a regular basis. This holds true in all parts of my life, and that includes business.
It is not hard to explain why I feel so strongly about the social part of business. It has served me well over my career. I have been extremely fortunate to have had numerous mentors who taught me the value of socially connecting in business both in their words and actions. It did not take long for me to realize that along with hard work, determination and focus on doing the best you can, the opportunity to build a network of people who wanted to connect with people doing the same was rewarding and beneficial.
So that is what I did. No matter where I was working or what role I was undertaking, when there was an opportunity to attend a community or chamber of commerce mixer or trade show, an open seat at a business event table or any networking event, I volunteered to attend. The efforts not only helped me meet and get to know thousands of people but also hone my networking and social skills with each and every individual encounter.
This brings me to why I choose to be more “socially persistent” and not so “socially distant” during this uncharted time in our world. The term “physically distant” has entered my vocabulary since realizing “socially distant” was not the correct way to describe the way I continued to work and network. We can absolutely remain a safe distance apart and still be social and network.
I have to admit I miss the handshakes. I miss the face-to-face in-person gatherings. I especially miss the smiles behind the masked faces I see when I do have the chance to venture out and run into a fellow networking acquaintance or friend.
So what can we do to increase our “social persistence” while maintaining our safe and recommended “physical distance”? You have heard of the four “P’s” of the Marking Mix, correct? How about the four “P’s” of the Mx Social Persistence Mix? Here are a few tips, techniques and things we can all do to stay connected:
• Plug in and e-connect: Whether you have or are becoming a Zoom master or chose to use FaceTime or any other means of screen face to screen face e-communication to connect, continue to do it. Chambers and business groups continue to host online gatherings, training sessions and information sessions. Sign up and show up, it is that simple. Connect early and often with those who are a true source of encouragement and energy.
• Plan for email and text time: Set aside certain times of your day to reach out to those whom you used to see regularly at networking events. You know the group of people. They are the people like you who showed up to all of the mixers and events prior to COVID-19.
• Put pen to paper. While all the e-connections are convenient and useful, it may be the perfect time to dust off your penmanship and write a few letters each week to some of your favorite fellow networkers. Share your experiences and thoughts, just like you would if you were seeing them and catching up at a networking event. Then check your mailbox and you may be surprised those people may actually respond with letters of their own.
• Power up the posts: With Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram and more at your fingertips, there is no better time to update your pages and engage in business networking using social media. Think about what you want to say, how you want to say it and who you want to say it to. Perhaps share what you are reading, watching, learning about and doing in business right now. If you find you are not doing as much as related to business as you normally would, then post about what you want or hope to do as things return to a semblance of business normalcy.
While these are not the only strategies you can undertake to stay socially persistent, they may serve as a catalyst for you to stay engaged in your networking and efforts to stay connected. And please remember in business we can be “socially persistent” and consistent while remaining “physically distant.” Stay safe, stay healthy and stay in touch.