No-Contact Networking:
Maintaining Business Relationships During Social Isolation

27th May 2020

Article by Adi Stevens | Strategist

If recent times have taught us anything, it’s that businesses can adapt. In most cases, employees can work productively from home and technology is able to help people stay connected along the way.

Social distancing has shown us how much we, as humans, crave connection. We need to stay connected to our colleagues, to support one another and to remain productive. We also need to continue to grow our broader business networks.

The world has changed in many ways, and some of these changes will remain for a very long time. So, how exactly can we stay connected and develop new connections in this changed world?

When we think of networking (both internal and external), we think of events such as conferences, social nights, golf days and long lunches. These have traditionally been the vehicles for developing and maintaining business relationships. In the absence of large social gatherings and with many people continuing to work remotely, it is time to explore and embrace no-contact networking.

To maintain internal networks, it’s important to remember that prior to COVID-19, so many of us had become accustomed to working in an office environment. Indeed, many have found themselves working solo for the first time in their entire career.

As far as internal networking is concerned, video conferencing is essential. Virtual team meetings (via Zoom, Teams or another similar platforms) are vital for maintaining connectivity amongst colleagues. Even virtual office Friday night drinks, send offs or birthday celebrations should be maintained where possible, as they can be a great way for people to feel connected to one another. Never underestimate the benefit of social banter amongst work colleagues!

It’s also important not to completely put external networking on hold. In fact, now is the perfect time to reflect on your network and to build it up so you and your business are well positioned when the fog lifts.

Try seeking out alternative ways to maintain relationships and create new ones. Staying active and growing your networks on LinkedIn is a great place to start.

You can also take your existing networks and grow them online. While reaching out to people virtually can feel daunting, it’s important to remember many people are embracing new technologies, and virtual meetups are the ‘new normal’. Create your own online catch up, invite colleagues and contacts from your networks, or ask them to each invite someone from their own network. Perhaps you could hold a virtual networking lunch, allowing each participant to introduce themselves with an ‘elevator pitch’ to break the ice.

This is a difficult time for a lot of people and businesses. You can make authentic connections by using your expertise to create value for other people. Share your skills with your community, offer a free webinar, write a blog post or create a video showcasing your skills. Do something to add value to them in their time of need and they will remember you later.

We need to remember that while we are not all in the same boat, we are all in the same storm. This has affected us all in different ways and the key to survival will be staying connected.