As someone that has worked in law firm CRM and marketing for many years, it is no surprise that I would author a blog with this title. We all know how important it is to create and maintain our networks – but how is it different in these challenging times? Even though we can spend an enormous amount of time talking on screens, research shows that since the pandemic many people are spending less time networking. The sense of contraction and holding back has meant we are not investing as much in our networks as before.
However, 2020 has taught me that now more than ever, our networks and communities are critical to not just surviving but thriving in these unique times. And I’m not just talking about new business, but how we provide mutual support that will help our networks enjoy wellness and good mental health.
Business networks support each other out of the tough times and flourish
The CRM tool we are all familiar with is now more important than ever in helping our clients feel supported, maintain a semblance of operation and keep business moving as much as possible. This is a time to see the CRM as not just as way of helping us retain and grow clients, but as a way to reach out to let our clients know that we are here for them and thereby build loyalty that will extend beyond this pandemic.
Job loss and employment disruption
The sad reality is that significant disruption to employment will be in our near future. By maintaining your network, we can keep abreast of how businesses are restructuring (or sadly closing) and opportunities that may open. Through our networks we can all keep an open mind, refer our colleagues and peers to prospective employers, and help each other as best we can stay in work. Whilst it can feel like employment rates are completely out of our control, our networks can be one small way we can help each other stay in employment.
And at the centre is our mental health
As our businesses face new challenges and employment feels uncertain, anxiety and stress levels increase. Supporting each other through our networks can have a significant impact on how people are feeling. Whether it is business support and advice, employment referral, or just a connection maintained, we can all do our bit to lift each other up wherever we can.
Record, review and connect
So how do we start? The first thing to remember is that we are part of a large interdependent web that covers clients, their staff, their clients and so on. When one string is weakened, the whole web becomes weaker. Therefore, as best you can, use whatever technology or processes you have to record your relationships and track how you and your business is engaging with them at this time. What support are you providing them? What questions are you asking and how can you amend your offering to provide solutions they need now? What personal advice can you provide from your own history that may help others? When you capture all of this and execute on what you learn, we can continue to support the business network and the attached communities as best we can.
Keep and nurture your networks well. It may well be one of the things that eventually pulls us all out of these challenging times.