Managing professional relationships in a COVID environment
Developing and maintaining good relationships with colleagues and people in your business network takes perseverance. Thanks to Covid, keeping in touch has gotten a little bit harder. Whether you’re working from home, restricting business travel or just socially distancing—the impromptu social interactions that make office life so enjoyable have been curtailed for now.
Maintaining Business Relationships
Although working from home can have many advantages - it can also be isolating and counter-productive in some situations. Zoom calls may cover essential business conversations, but many WFH employees might feel hesitant to contact colleagues working remotely for purely social contact. Casual catch-ups that used to happen naturally in the office lunchroom now need to be scheduled—if they happen at all.
Business relationships are not that different to personal friendships, and our own self-esteem often determines the strength of the relationship. How often have you thought about contacting a friend but held off, thinking, “They’re probably too busy” or “They won’t be interested in me”. Inevitably, when you do get in touch, you discover that they were thinking the same thing, and they’re pleased and relieved that you contacted them!
Professional relationships are never just about ‘business’, so make sure you break through the Covid barriers and re-connect with your business friends - any excuse will do!
Starting New Business Relationships
Large business conferences are likely to be off the agenda for the time being - so how do you meet and network with new people? You're probably connected to many people through your social media networks—but how many do you really know? Now’s a good time to reach out to those you follow and those that follow you.
There is a great deal of talk about the polarisation occurring in social media, and you may have people in your network who hold differing views to you. Now’s not the time to cut them loose—instead, try to understand their point of view and find a middle ground.
One of the most heartening outcomes from the pandemic has been the increased sense of social responsibility and looking after your community. There are great opportunities for businesses and their employees to engage with local charities and social initiatives and forge new relationships at a grassroots level.
Keep It Real
Whatever methods you employ to keep your business relationships humming away—remember to be yourself. Having a tough day? Share some of your vulnerabilities and personal thoughts with those you trust. They’ll appreciate your openness and honesty, and your relationship will move beyond everyday business interactions to something more meaningful and long-term.