Building Relationships Remotely

I am working from home and so is a large portion of people around the globe. The #StayHome strategy is the safest bet to flatten the curve and help the health authorities to cope with the pandemic but we do not know, at this point, how long we will have to stay home and when the business will come back to normalcy.

While we are trying to work from home, at times we will have spare time on our hands looking for productive utilization. May I propose that you invest this time on building relationships. In the BC (Before Corona) period, the paucity of time enforced priorities and, sorely, the task of building relationships always got shortchanged. But now is the time to strengthen the bonds, not just with your friends and family (as most have been doing) but with your partners, and this includes customers, suppliers, employees.

Agreed that this may not be the time for making new contacts, but it is definitely a good time to re-establish connections with neglected contacts and built on existing ones. So take your visiting cards folder or if your digital contact book and make a list of the calls you will make in the next two weeks. Allocate at least 60–90 minutes to make phone calls, video-meet or online chat.

Here is a definitive plan for using your time productively for business networking and relationship building.

Make new connects

While it may not be the best of times to meet new people, you need not totally rule it out. If you have been attending webinars or online meetings, it is possible to view the participants, and a conversation can be struck on participants’ chat, or by connecting on LinkedIn. Be ready to send a LinkedIn request as soon as the meeting is over.

Connection Exchange

This is also an ideal time to introduce your connections to each other by doing a connections exchange. Organize an online meeting and invite a few of your key contacts and ask your friend/colleague to do likewise. Use the meeting to introduce each other. Having an interesting topic for the meeting makes the event attractive to attend.

Know your contacts

The frenzied pace of everyday work gives little time to dig deeper in the profiles of the contacts we have. This is a good time to spend understanding your contacts better. The internet is a good place to start using LinkedIn, and other published sources. You will be amazed at what you can learn about the people that you meet so regularly.

Connect down

I believe this is also an excellent time to network-down, meaning to entertain requests from others at the junior level who may reach out to you. Your LinkedIn may be full of requests from people at junior or lateral level trying to connect to you. Perhaps, they may be people trying to follow your leadership or selling to you. Use your schedule to include some of these people as well.

Connect to Colleagues at Work

And lastly, connect to your colleagues in the company, whom you would generally not have time to know better. This is indeed an opportunity to truly know the people who run the company. It gives them an opportunity to interact with your personally and in these turbulent times it could be the glue to hold your enterprise together.

Have an agenda

When making a phone or a video call it is important that you have an agenda. I mean, have something meaningful to converse. The main agenda would be to check on their well-being both personal and professional, but you may also want to learn something more about their company, personal goals, passions. Remember to close the call with an interest and excuse to have a follow-up call.

As always, I look forward to your comments to my thoughts, and please do share any story that results from my suggestions.