Executive Chairman Tim Ryan shares his thoughts on rekindling connections for better business...
I think we’d all agree that the connections we make are important to our lives…both in business and more personally. For months, networking has been well and truly cancelled and, with our annual UNA Conference also on hold until next year, the prospect of face to face connections gets smaller by the day.
Whether in the business world or in our personal lives, though, keeping the connections we make and have made is, I believe, more important than ever. Questions abound… How can we maintain our business connections when we can’t meet in person? How can we build and maintain our networks to try and stay ahead of the curve? Adapting is key. And I think we’ve all proved that adapting is well within our capabilities. Think outside the normal, restrategise and move forward…
Building business alliances
Better business is all about people connections. The relationships we build with our peers, our suppliers, our customers, our competitors and our industries are all key. The strength of our networks defines how easy it is to meet new peers, suppliers and customers, too. And, the people we meet help us to be more creative, productive and, ultimately, profitable.
Doing all this remotely takes thought, imagination and empathy, too. Here are my thoughts on how it works:
Rethinking relationship building
With face to face meetings less possible day to day, planning how we’re going to connect with people is the first thing to think about. Regular video and telephone calls is great for talking with our existing contacts, but how do we reach out for the new ones? For me, this is all about working out the best ways to share support. And mutual support opportunities, rather than going out there solely to build our own business is surely what networking is all about.
So, while we could think solely about what we’d want to achieve from our networking in more normal times, now, thinking about what we can do to help others, sharing experiences, offering support and ideas, is what can make a difference now.
We can do this through business forums, sharing those sparks of inspiration that we’ve found interesting or those things that we’ve implemented ourselves that have made a difference. Here, social media, PR and making the most of the sharing between existing networks is key.
Opening out with existing contacts
Throughout lockdown, our business contacts have primarily been maintained via video conferencing and phone calls and, with so many virtual meetings to juggle, staying in touch with everyone we would normally see may not have been possible.
Nurturing those relationships with a quick call or a few words, sharing interesting news and finding out how contacts are doing personally is a good idea. Equally, socially distanced, often outdoor, meetings have been a great relief in recent weeks.
Getting together with other businesses
Alliances with businesses within the same industry or who offer a service that complements our own, such as UNA Alliance, can also offer a great network for sharing experiences and ideas. This allows us all to share useful referrals, as well as valuable marketplace information. Knowing we’re all in this together allows us to feel more able to get through.
Learning together, supporting business
Sharing resources, information and knowledge can help us to be more creative, to feel useful and to better our businesses. With so many challenges to overcome in recent times, shared learnings can make a great deal of difference and can be a real business boost.
Offering our support to our peers and building communities has been, I believe, one of the big positives to come out of lockdown. It’s something we’ve actively encouraged, both as a broker business at Ryan’s, and as a part of the UNA Alliance, for many years, and it’s something I’d like to see stay with us into the longer term. Let’s keep talking!