Business development during Corona times – it is all about your mindset
Our lives have changed dramatically in the past 9 months, and there is no concrete finish line in sight. Much has been said and written about the economic, mental and social effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on us.
One of the most common Corona restrictions is social distancing: since close in-person gatherings are discouraged,many are afraid of meeting face to face, and have strict rules regarding the settings in which meetings can take place. The result is that people hardly meet one another, and don’t experience social relationships to the fullest. On the business side, the dramatic decrease in face to face meetings is as critical as it is for our personal relationships. Although most of the world can communicate remotely, as social creatures, we find face to face meetings irreplaceable in building trust and in cultivating long-lasting relationships.
I joined 3d Signals seven months ago, and took a global facing position. This meant, at least in theory, that I was to travel regularly to meet clients and business partners in various parts of the world. However, suddenly I had to initiate and build business relationships with consultants who work with discrete manufacturing factories via Zoom. Aside from the obvious challenge of initiating relationships from a distance, reaching out to consultants who have no idea who I am, with language and cultural differences (German vs. English), and with no chance of meeting face to face in the near future – all these added more difficulties to my role.
At the beginning, I was extremely frustrated. As an extroverted person who finds face to face meetings as important as the air that I breath, I couldn’t find a method that would allow me to build trust over two dimensional communicationmethods like Zoom or email. Moreover, I was afraid that even when I will be able to travel, people won’t meet with me due to regulations, restrictions, or, simply, fear. Luckily, I was happily surprised to find that the need for human connection is a global one, and that it’s stronger than any pandemic.
My last trip to Germany took place exactly when new regulations were introduced, which prohibited meetings in restaurants and staying at hotels unless it is strictly for business purposes.
Sounds impossible to meet, right?
Well, that’s what I thought, at least, and I was wrong.
Never waste a good crisis
There is no doubt life has changed dramatically, and that businesses have to adapt to this new situation. However, businesses that adjusted better could actually benefit from the Corona restrictions. For example, the startup I work at, 3d Signals, solved this by focusing on improving discrete manufacturing production; by providing real time data that helps factories take data driven decisions and increase productivity, we’ve been able to harness the Corona crisis in our favor. This crisis “plays on our side”, since now many factories realize they must become more efficient to survive this period. Thanks to these crazy times, there are more potential customers looking for a solution to increase their factory’s productivity, and are open to creative solutions.
Speak as if it has already happened, and it will
In the past month and a half, I traveled to Germany three times. Every visit included a few different meetings every day in various locations – sometimes a few hours travel by train from one location to another. When I planned each trip, there was always one meeting that was “an anchor” for the trip, but the rest was pretty flexible. I didn’t always know in advance whether people would be willing to meeting with me, or what regulations will be in place at the specific time I will visit there, but my approach was that I should act as if my schedule is all set and that I simply know that meetings will take place. I am not much of a spiritual person, but I can’t argue with karma. If you do your best to plan something, somehow, eventually, it all turns out for the best. In some of the trips, some of the meetings were canceled at the last minute, but at the same time, others were spontaneously scheduled as soon as I arrived. Reaching out to someone and saying: “I will be in your area on day X…” makes it much easier to schedule a meeting in comparison with sharing that you arrive specifically for one meeting or another.
Focus on what you CAN do
Although there are no restaurants or cafes, when someone wants to meet, they will find a way. During this trip, we conducted meetings in train stations, sitting on benches in the open air, walking near a river, and even while jogging.
In all our meetings, we strictly followed rules and restrictions. It just takes some will and the right attitude. While many people focus on what isn’t possible, when you focus on what you can do, you realize that there are all kinds of creative ways to meet and work together. Of course, we don’t ignore the fact that there is a pandemic going on, but until a vaccine comes along, “the show must go on”. Therefore, we must remember that there are various creative alternatives, that follow the rules and restrictions, but that make it possible to meet.
Looking forward, here are my two cents
We live in crazy times, but just like handling a major crisis, it is all about your mindset. Challenges will always be there, in different shapes and forms, but our perspective is what transforms a challenge into an opportunity. Although there are a lot of people who prefer to meet via Zoom, there are many who are eager to meet face to face. While there are many businesses who choose a conservative approach, there are businesses who find this period as an opportunity to make a change and become better at what they do. In order to keep our sanity and maintain an optimistic approach, we should focus on what we can do, engage with people who share our mindset, and lead others to find ways to move forward.