Experienced business owners have known for years that if you aren’t able to or willing to adapt, it will make growing your business difficult. COVID-19 has only expedited this process for many. Those businesses that were continuously adapting before COVID-19 are seeing their efforts pay off now.
Since March, we have seen businesses quickly pivoting in order to maintain steady revenue – whether it was restaurants launching mobile ordering and placing a larger emphasis on carry-out, gyms hosting virtual workouts, clothing retailers making face masks, or networking groups doing virtual meetings. In the next few months, the demand for alternative strategies will only increase. As a second surge in cases continues in Texas, if businesses want to survive, they will need to adapt and build their network of referral partners in order to elevate their recovery process.
Building Your Network of People
Now is the time to invest in your network! Build that network by focusing on how you can help others and focus less on how they can help you. We have heard the phrases “we’re all in this together” and “stronger together” many times in recent months, and that is because there is real truth in those statements.
Any business owner who recognizes the value of a large network will understand how beneficial that community is to the recovery process. It is much easier to regain traction for your business with the help of others rather than trying to go at it alone. For example, say you are a local restaurant owner and are looking to show people the process of how your food is made, to create transparency between you and the customers. When you have a network of people to reach out to, one of them may be a videographer or may know a videographer in the area that can help.
So, if you haven’t built a network of people yet, now is a great time. Though networking groups can help foster communication, making connections can be as simple as reaching out to some of your contacts on LinkedIn and asking how you can support them with the resources you have available.
Relationship Building Virtually
What has COVID-19 done to networking? Now, the onus is now on the individual to make these connections happen rather than relying on networking events like conventions, happy hours, and chamber events.
When thinking about building relationships that will last, turn to platforms where you normally connect with people. Most people turn to LinkedIn first, but there are plenty of other avenues. Facebook groups are a great resource right now. Look to see if there are any neighborhood Facebook groups focused on connecting local business owners. Also, you can turn to hyperlocal social networking sites such as Nextdoor and Alignable that are dedicated to building connections and increasing word-of-mouth for neighborhood businesses.
Once you contact someone and set up some one-on-one time to connect, how you treat this opportunity is just as important as the initial communication. Treat the time you have with someone over Zoom or over the phone the same way you would treat a meeting in a coffee shop. You should be prepping beforehand by researching the person and thinking about the questions you want to ask them. If you are going to be on Zoom with someone, make sure to have your camera turned on initially, even if they don’t – this shows that you value the time you have with them.
As you network, keep in mind that everyone has been processing the past few months differently. Respect and value your connections’ time and you’ll reap the rewards of a mutually beneficial relationship, now and for years to come.