Friday, May 29, 2020

Keep calm and carry on digitally: By Fiona Duncan-Steer, founder of RSViP Business Networking Agency

Fiona Duncan-Steer, founder of RSViP Business Networking Agency considers how to navigate change in these uncertain times.

In light of the circumstances we find ourselves in relating to COVID-19, I find it difficult to write about anything else this month, so I have decided to cover the subject of change and adaptation, looking at how we can take steps to adapt in this ever-changing climate, which is inevitably effecting us all both personally and in business.

In a world where we are operating in shock, impulse and panic mode right now, it is easy to become swept away with the media hype surrounding the issues, social media discussions and general chit chat, so it is more important than ever to take a step back and regain some focus.

When it comes to business, most industries are being affected by the negative impact of the Coronavirus outbreak and with social distancing being the main strategy to combat the spread, we are entering into a new wave of working remotely and communicating digitally.

Many businesses operate through a predominantly face to face format and so having a restriction on this is no doubt going to have a detrimental effect on the operation of the business and unless adaptation is implemented it could have a catastrophic outcome.

So, what can businesses who rely on human interaction do to combat this?

Now more than ever staying connected must be priority. Maintaining your business brand and profile in these times is still just as important as before and this does not necessarily mean salesy adverts and self-promotion, this means adding value and showing support.  Nurturing existing client relationships and offering yourselves as a resource where relevant.  Utilising the networks you are already a part of to continue to stay in people’s minds – even if it’s just through conversation, blogging, video/phone chats and live streaming – is so important. Ask the business networks you are a part of how they can support you in these times and tap into any resources available.

It’s all about planning and contingency.

Be pro-active – doing something is better than nothing at all and it’s all about small steps.

Why not use this mandatory downtime to idea generate – use the alternative environment you find yourself in, to get creative and in other words brainstorm some new ideas?

Look at the services/products you provide and think of ways in which you can continue to provide them using a different model or platform.

  • Can you take your service online?
  • Can you deliver your product through an online order e.g. food takeaways etc.?
  • Can you host online consultations, events and workshops?

Granted there will be some industries that may struggle to find an alternative to what they currently offer, however we have access to an amazing digital space with various interesting platforms, most of which are free to access, or charge a monthly subscription fee, making it affordable to most to access and adapt for their business models.

We are essentially adopting a new way of thinking here and it’s a real breakthrough – some of us may have been holding off on implementing video into our marketing strategies for a while with our businesses, but this may just be the push you need to get cracking. Have you been thinking about setting up a LinkedIn group for a while? Get on with it!

Start writing the first chapter of that book you want to write, schedule podcasts to listen to, watch Ted Talks for inspiration, join up to positive online communities of like-minded folk and above all keep talking.

Communication is key right now and remember; what connects us are not the meetings and events we attend, what truly connect us are the people and at least for now we can continue to connect with one another remotely – scheduling regular online meetings using platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Acuity Schedule, to which many also offer live chat and multiple user facilities, connecting people from all over the world and what’s great is that these translate to so many industries and activities; such as workshops, webinars and even yoga classes!

The power of digital is endless and we are about to discover just how powerful.

It is worth remembering that this is only temporary, we will get through this and normality will eventually resume – so focusing on the end goal is not a bad thing, keeping in close contact with your customers, even if they leave you temporarily, many will come back.

It almost seems inappropriate to self-promote right now, but we all have businesses to run and bills to pay, so choose when and how to go about this sensitively and offer support to those you can without draining your own resources – remember you can’t pour from an empty cup.

It goes back to the biggest rule of networking to ask, “How can I help you?”

Final thought

You are not on your own in this, we are all in this together, so don’t be afraid to ask for help or indeed receive it for that matter.

In the words of Ricky Gervais: “Stay well, take vitamins, wash your hands, don’t be selfish, make sure an elderly relative has everything they need. Some are too proud to ask. Drink at home. Everything you love doing you can do in a few weeks.”

Stay safe

Fiona Duncan-Steer – www.fionaduncansteer.co.uk www.rsvipnetwork.co.uk

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