Pandemic Networking

Nov 11, 2020 | General

One of my favorite parts of being a small business owner is meeting other local professionals and learning all about their professional and personal journeys.

I enjoy making new connections and I’ve met some really amazing people at networking events, many of whom I now consider close friends. Over the years, I’ve been to countless mixers, ribbon cuttings, and other events but unfortunately these in-person events have come to a virtual halt due to the pandemic.

BUSINESS IMPACT

Prior to the pandemic, I attracted a steady flow of new customers through networking activities but once the pandemic halted these events, I noticed a significant drop in my agency’s new customer growth. Thankfully, people still need insurance even during a pandemic so my agency didn’t lose very many customers, but the problem was that we were not growing. Given the situation the world was in, I was just happy to still be in business, but I quickly realized that I needed to make some changes to my business model to adapt to the new normal of social distancing.

VIDEO NETWORKING

Prior to the pandemic, I had never used Zoom. I had heard of it but I never saw the need. I conducted business either over the phone or in-person. Once in-person meetings we’re no longer possible, Zoom became the natural replacement. Zooming became my new favorite verb and I was trying to schedule Zooms with people I would normally have networked with in person. The Chamber of Commerce started scheduling mixers via Zoom also. Zooming went from being weird to completely normal for networking in a span of about 30 days. Now, I do almost all of my networking via Zoom and many of my customers prefer a Zoom meeting over a phone call now. If you had told me in January of 2020 that this would be normal a few months later, I would have called you crazy, but here we are Zooming!

EMBRACING TECHNOLOGY

There have been many advances in technology over the past year that have made it much easier to adapt. In full disclosure, these “advances” have probably been around for a while but they were new to me. For example, if you visit my Contact Me page, you can now schedule time on my calendar and, less than 5 seconds later, you’ll receive an automated confirmation email from me with a link to a Zoom meeting for the time you selected. That’s pretty slick and it works very well – so well that I think you should try it out.

THE NEW NORMAL

So, what will the new normal look like once the pandemic is over? Will we go back to the way we used to operate? No. Will we continue to do everything virtually? Nope. My hope is that we can use our newfound technology to enhance the activities we were already doing and maybe open our eyes to new possibilities that were once impossible. I plan on shaking hands at ribbon cuttings and meeting people at coffee shops again as soon as it’s safe to do so. I am really looking forward to it, but I also see myself meeting people on Zoom who I never would have met pre-pandemic. In the past, there were times I didn’t ask someone out for coffee because I just didn’t have time. The windshield time made a 30 minute meeting into an hour or more but that same meeting on Zoom is only a 30 minute commitment. A healthy blend of the old and new is the way forward and I think it will be awesome.

If you’d like to connect with me, please reach out to me at www.lofrumentoagency.com/connect. I’d love to hear from you, plus you can check out the cool calendar-Zoom integration while you’re at it too!

John Lofrumento, CFP®, FSCP®, RICP®
President, The Lofrumento Agency