It is those with relationships who have been the ones who have been able to trade despite all.
There has been much written about the impact of the lockdown. Many have argued that lockdowns have been a great time for those who love social media and that it has been the extroverts who have suffered. However, there is a little factual base for this. The whole concept of introverts and extroverts has become over-emphasised.
It is fairer and more relevant, to say that those who hold strong relationships have managed to carry on trading, serving and being able to adapt. After all the rhetoric about the power of social media, most senior players will note that it has been those with relationships who have managed to maintain business.
There have been many debates that surround the return to work and offices. Many argue that the working week has changed forever. Others believe that there is a growing desire to get back to offices, to see colleagues and friends. Time will tell but the odds are that the factor which will drive people back to offices will be business growth and deals. It is likely that those that possess relationships will be the ones who are busiest.
After years of talk about the power of social media strategies, internet processes and brand names, it has been those with trust who have been able to do business. As we do re-emerge, it is clear that there needs to be a new emphasis placed on building relationships which are real and have genuine meaning. Networking was an important traditional skill that has been eroded by both social media and a negative perspective linked to the concept.
Real networking, skilled networking is about treating people with care and interest; acting with good behaviours. Social skills are a key weapon in the armoury of any influential player. These skills have declined but it is time to place back at the core of business learning; how to dress, how to network, how to treat others, how to influence, how to act.
As we re-emerge, many have a real desire for more real-time conversations with colleagues and friends. Today, many want to socialise, but it must be something that offers a real connection, a shared hobby or joy, and all with an air of informality. In today’s world, there is a mistrust of anything not genuine, so the skill is to be both genuine and authentic. It is about engaging people with a desire to learn, to pick up new knowledge.
It was often said that the best way to get someone to like them is to get them to talk about themselves. There is truth in this too, but the real skill is to have an interest in them. The starting place of networking is having a desire to learn. Networking allows the opportunity to build new friendships, to gain new information, to have real conversations that allow me to learn.
Perhaps this is the heart of the issue: somewhere along the road, we forgot that building real conversation with strangers and actually having care about new people is a good thing. In the last twenty years, people network less. They have less conversation, but they spend more time building online social connections that mean so very little in the real world. So many boast about how many social connections they have. It appears on hundreds of CVs as though everyone should be impressed but, in truth, the key is to do the opposite.
Is it a coincidence that there is a concern that many possess less knowledge, are narrower in their thinking at the same time as the time spent in conversation has fallen as has time spent networking?
There will be a hundred research reports that will say that networking is important; that it builds business connections and trust. Moreover, it says something good about you.
Network to learn. Network to build knowledge. Network to find new friendships.