The world of face-to-face conversations as we knew it is coming to an end. The pandemic has made businesses aware of a variety of risks inherent to physical meetings. As the vaccine rolls out, we can expect a slow revival of handshakes, coffee catch-ups, and office visits.
The traditional paths to introduce yourself to potential partners and clients need to evolve to include post-pandemic friendly strategies. The days when event networking was popular are about the change.
Firstly, we can count on long-lasting coronavirus anxiety to remain a part of most face-to-face interactions. The fear of proximity and physical contact will be an obstacle to establishing friendly and trustworthy contact.
Secondly, the surge of digital activities increases the risk of digital fatigue. People who work on a screen all day suffer from a reduced attention span. Many specialists refer to the goldfish, whose 12 seconds attention span stretches beyond the one of today’s digital users. Therefore, lengthy content, on a blog or a LinkedIn profile, could be counterproductive.
Keep risks to a minimum
There’s a growing desire to go back to normal, to the way life was before the pandemic. It is fair to expect business interactions to attempt to go back to offline meetings, whenever possible. Yet, with social distancing structures in place – and these are likely to remain for a long time as the vaccine roll-out could last several years – handshakes and paper business cards are to be avoided. Yet, alternatives exist, such as the virtual business cards, which enables professionals to grow their network safely without touching potentially compromised surfaces.
With only first impressions to stand out, professionals can start the conversation by wearing branded PPE, such as a mask with their business logo, or a small branded bottle of sanitising gel. Ideally, these could also be repurposed as freebies.
Rewrite your story
Storytelling is an art that is as old as humanity itself. As long as there have been people around, there have been stories to tell. In the business world, storytelling is far from being a novelty. Countless brands have harnessed the power of stories to interact with their target audience. Airbnb has made storytelling the core of its marketing communication, tapping into holidaymaker’s desires and aspirations.
In a post-pandemic world, storytelling needs to hook and engage an audience that is overstimulated by digital technology. To be heard and seen in a busy digital world, storytellers have to think of creating the first spark of interest and making it last long enough to engage. The audience has little attention to data overload. Therefore, introducing your brand begins with a spark, rather than an overcharged explosion of details.
Make your voice heard
Why write when you talk? The pandemic has driven alternative media platforms. Podcast networks have recorded a surge of interest at the beginning of the COVID-19 situation. Podcasts serve many purposes, from delivering information in a digestible manner to reducing digital fatigue. Brands have also found they could communicate more effectively through podcasts rather than blog articles. Listening to stories is in human nature, and many retain more through the process. Why not make an impactful introduction of your skills and offering through a business podcast?
With little knowledge as to when things will be back to normal, we have to accommodate health concerns, pandemic fatigue and trends in our future communication strategies. Professionals need to bring back EQ at the heart of their messaging, by understanding the needs of the audience in a pandemic environment.