How often do pick up the phone to your business contacts just to have a chat? We appreciate that the answer may well vary widely depending on your business sector but it’s still an important question to ask.
Back in March when lockdown was in its infancy we highlighted the importance of making sure that those members of your team who were working from home or self isolating did not feel lonely or alienated from the business environment. We suggested instigating conference calls or chats on the phone over a cup of coffee, effectively replacing those water cooler moments which help to bind teams together. And we also highlighted the effect which isolation can have on mental health and on the body’s ability to fight infection.
More than half a year into our journey with Covid and whilst some may have reintegrated into the workplace, many others are still working from home and may well do so for an extended period of time. For them those telephone chats may have become a lifeline, potentially the only contact which they have with others from day-to-day.
But your people won’t be the only ones who are working from or isolated at home. Your business contacts may well be in the same position. Yes some will be working from their offices or be in regular contact with others as part of a larger organisation. But others may not. They may be working from home, feeling isolated and in need of contact. So how much would it cost to just occasionally pick up the phone for a quick chat, to ask them how they are doing or to discuss some common area of interest?
Or what about instigating a weekly ‘open chat’ hour; letting your key contacts know that at that time you will be available to talk, even if that conversation has nothing to do with work. Better still, make that call time available via a freephone number which enables individuals to call without worrying about costs. Of course if the idea becomes too popular you may have to expand it to an open forum but after all networking can bring in business and contacts and what is this but networking?
On the face of it ideas such as these may seem like time wasted; something which businesses can ill afford. However, any conversation potentially brings opportunities: a chance to get to know and understand your marketplace better, a chance to get feedback on products or ideas, a chance to identify potential areas of synergy.
Admittedly this sort of telephone networking may not be as productive as face-to-face meetings and in particular when your business contacts include customers you may have to be mindful of GDPR regulations before you pick up the phone. However, when Covid restrictions mean that face-to-face meetings may not be appropriate for some time to come, a telephone chat may well be the next best thing. You never know when a casual remark could lead to a conference call that helps to shape future business or product development. And you never know when your call could be a lifeline to the outside world for someone who is struggling on their own.